Interview with Hans Zeiger

Hans Zeiger has been a state representative since he was elected in 2010 at the age of 25.  He was the first candidate I ever voted for after I turned 18 and I now work at the consulting firm that helped Hans win his race.  I have had the honor of getting to know him quite well over the past few years, and he is the reason I have the job I do now.

I sat down with him a few days ago to discuss the transportation package that will be voted on shortly.  As most of our conversations go, we quickly turned to social policy instead.

This session, Hans sponsored a bill (with Sen. Dammeier sponsoring the companion bill SB 6338) that has the potential to really help the people of Washington State.  It is House Bill 2462, which gives preference to affordable housing projects that include collaboration between housing authorities, school districts, and other organizations that help low-income children. 

The House Bill did not make House of Origin cut-off, but the Senate Bill did.  A version of the bill successfully led a Tacoma school to reduce student turnover by 104%.  The bill does not mandate anything; it would basically just incentivize housing projects that form a partnership between the housing authority and schools.  Student turnover, and the inconsistency therein, accounts for a higher failure rate.  Minimizing this turnover would mean higher graduation rates, less crime, and more community-oriented activities. 

This bill has great bipartisan support and is expected to go to the Governor’s office to be signed into law in a few weeks.  The Senate version passed unanimously.  The bill certainly increases community-spirit and buy in for the local housing authorities.  It is also certainly less controversial than the transportation package, which is Hans’ number one priority as a legislator. 

Going into the meeting, I did not know anything about the bill.  I went back after the meeting to look at potential changes that I could suggest.  It is so beneficial, that I can hardly find anything wrong with it.  When I read HB 2462, however, I found that this is just one of the many preferences used in giving housing trust money.  In fact, it is quite low on the list.  It is under many other valuable preference criteria, but my recommendation would be to move this nearer to the top of the list.   The section dealing with this community partnership would be moved from HB 2462, Section 2 (n) to Section 2 (e).  In light of the McCleary decision, this move would really show intent to educate our children to the best of our ability.

When speaking to him about this, he found the idea very interesting.  Because it is too late for this change to be proposed, we did not discuss it too much after that.  Maybe that can be a change for later on once these partnerships prove fruitful.

Though I just learned about this idea recently, I have become very passionate about this bill.  It goes hand-in-hand with my work on the Tacoma Human Rights Commission, because we work very closely with the Tacoma Housing Authority (who partnered with the Tacoma School Districts as the successful test case for this bill).  I intend to speak with my friends in the House to make sure this gets passed this session.  Though I am only close friends with 8 Representatives, hopefully my passion for the bill will translate to more urgency in getting it passed.  Now that session is coming to a close, we need to make sure that this bill gets passed in time.

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