A message from our Interim Executive Director, Mary Steele.

Breonna Taylor. Manuel Ellis. Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd.

Over the past days and weeks, we have learned these names because they are the most recent victims of a nation built on a system of oppression. In losing their lives as a result of police action, these tragic losses have demonstrated once again the burden of racial inequality borne by Black Americans.

We at Compass Housing Alliance grieve these lives and the lives of so many others lost to systemic injustice. Black Lives Matter. Our vision at Compass is one of a world where everyone lives in a safe and caring community. The events of the last days and months are a stark reminder of how far away we are from realizing that vision.

We have a part to play in responding to this injustice both as individuals and as an organization. In Seattle and King County, homelessness and housing instability disproportionately affect People of Color. Last year, 31% of the people we served were Black compared to only 6% in the local King County population. This is personal to us, as we see these statistics reflected daily in the very real faces seeking the refuge of our services.

We need to make change. One of the things we are aware of is that our leadership team needs to better reflect the diversity of those we serve and of our staff. We are looking at ways to go further with our hiring practices and promotion policies to ensure that we have a stronger diversity and equity lens. We cannot advance racial equity in our city or our world without providing space for Black and Brown voices to be heard and to lead within our organization.

The need for Compass and organizations like it is greater now than ever. The affordable housing crisis that overwhelmingly affects communities of color will only get worse as the financial crisis brought about by COVID-19 runs its course. We will only be able to meet these needs by listening to the communities that are suffering and by acting as true partners and advocates in creating systemic change.

It will take all of us working together – our board, staff, partners, and donors – to make sure that everyone we serve has the opportunity to thrive in a community that values them no matter the color of their skin.

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