Officials: South King County area caught in societal ‘gap’

King County officials and panelists emphasized the importance of fairness and equal opportunities for people of all colors and incomes during a town hall-style meeting that drew a packed-room audience.

  • Monday, April 7, 2008 3:21pm
  • News

King County officials and panelists emphasized the importance of fairness and equal opportunities for people of all colors and incomes during a town hall-style meeting that drew a packed-room audience.

The County Council organized the March 24 meeting at Kent Senior Activity Center to discuss the county’s new Equity and Social Justice Initiative. It’s aimed at eliminating what officials said are inequities in education, healthcare, housing and economic opportunities – all of which can impact the health and even life expectancies of people.

“The problem is there is a growing gap between the rich and the poor in our community,” said County Councilwoman Julia Patterson.

Patterson told the audience:

• How a child in the south King County area is more than twice as likely to drop out of high school than a child in the east portions of the county.

• That a child of color is six times more likely than a white child to spend time in a state or county correctional facility.

• And that a southeast Seattle resident is four times more likely to die from diabetes than a Mercer Island resident.

Patterson said those figures could change if every King County resident had the same opportunities for quality education, affordable housing, living-wage jobs, basic healthcare, safe neighborhoods and nearby parks.

“Not everyone in the county enjoys the same health,” said panelist James Krieger, a doctor who heads the chronic-disease prevention program for Seattle-King County Public Health Department.

Krieger said the neighborhood where a person grows up and lives impacts the health of that person because of unequal access to healthcare, as well as homes with so much mold and improper ventilation that the physical environment can make a person sick.

Panelist Mike Heinisch, executive director for Kent Youth and Family Services, shared how the Springwood Apartments, a county housing authority project in Kent’s East Hill area, was improved the last several years with the addition of a youth center and a family center where residents can take English classes, computer classes and job-training courses.

“Those facilities have helped,” Heinisch said. “The job-training helps them get jobs, and we have seen better results in high school by the kids.”

Heinisch also gave an example of how his agency reached out to a Somalian woman, the single mother of young twins with diabetes, who had no idea how to manage diabetes because of language barriers. That caused the twins to receive inadequate medication and led to critically low blood sugar levels. But through a Head Start class, the agency set up the woman with an interpreter and she learned how to properly medicate her children.

“If we can remove barriers and people have the same access to education, jobs and healthcare, we can have tremendous power in our community,” Heinisch said.

Officials said the county will watch for inequities in programs such as parks and transportation.

“It’s not about investing more money, but investing more wisely to use money to eliminate disparities,” said Patterson, whose council district includes south King County areas.

More information about the Equity and Social Justice Initiative is available at www.metrokc.gov/exec/equity/Equityreport08.pdf.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@covingtonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.covingtonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

The former Econo Lodge in Kent is a King County Isolation and Quarantine Facility for COVID-19 patients. FILE PHOTO, Kent Reporter
Man dies at Kent COVID-19 isolation and quarantine facility

Found dead in room at former hotel during routine medical staff check

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA, who pushed for broadband funding in Washington schools. (Screenshot from murray.senate.gov)
American Rescue Plan Act funding approved for broadband investments in WA schools

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray pushed for the funding, which will benefit several King County school districts.

Courtesy photo
State offers free at-home COVID-19 tests

You can order the tests through the state’s new online portal.

Sen. Mona Das, D-47
Kent Democratic Sen. Mona Das proposes 1% cut in state sales tax

Starting in 2023; Republicans voice support for Senate Bill 5932

File photo
Non-profit sponsors study on how the pandemic impacted arts and culture in Puget Sound

The study helped identify challenges faced by residents and cultural organizations in Washington

Derek Kammerzell
Kammerzell negotiations with city of Kent expected to be ‘lengthy process’

Assistant police chief on paid administrative leave as union, city begin talks

t
Kent School District interim superintendent wants Kammerzell to resign

Incident could impact decision to renew school resource officers’ program with Kent Police

File photo
WA lawmakers propose making companies responsible for recycling improvements

SB 5697 would compel industries to report data, invest in infrastructure, meet standards.

Governor Jay Inslee. Sound Publishing file photo
Inslee: Officials’ lies about election results should be crime

Governor wants lawmakers to pass legislation making it a gross misdemeanor.

Most Read