Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


February 14th

I asked Chris to bring me some chocolates, now that he works right across the street from Metropolitan Market and their artisan chocolate selection. He certainly delivered! Handing me a bag heavy with chocolate bars he said he hoped it would "get you through the day." It'll do, it'll do...

I ended up spending a couple of hours trying to facilitate the petition process for my Chinese neighbors, with little luck. I went down to the local Department of Neighborhoods and met with Glenn Harris, who was very nice and generally sympathetic but didn't really have much to offer besides giving me the number of a SHA/New Holly community service liaison. The Department of Neighborhoods is kind of like a miniature City Hall, where people can come to pay (or resist paying) fines or utilities, get passports, and that kind of official city business. If we were talking about a community association they have some resources available in the form of grants for cleaning up parks or material improvements but no for private associations like the homeowner's association, even though the HOA deals with issue that affect the "neighborhood" and the "community". Anyway, he didn't blow me off, he just didn't really have the ability to help with, say, getting an translator or intervening on behalf of immigrant homeowners. After that, I walked next door to the office that was labeled "New Holly Management Office" and when I finally got someone to come to the front desk, they also threw up their hands and told me they couldn't help with making sure there was a translator at the meeting on Wednesday or in helping the non-English speaking homeowners. He also gave me the name of the SHA/New Holly liaison and the number for the utterly worthless and awful CDC Management company (who were the people who refused to give me contact information for the board of directors in the past, and with whom I had my long and very costly battle over "delinquent" dues, which I've gone on at length about in the past).

I did go over and talk a bit with Joy, the SHA community building cheerleader. Unfortunately, even though she was sympathetic on some points and helpfully called CDC to lend her name and position to the voice mail, I was again thwarted. She can help with "community" issues but not with things specifically involving the homeowners association. So, for example, she has a budget to translate a flyer into 6 or 8 languages so people in the neighborhood know that a safety or clean-up committee is being formed, but she can't provide any help in getting a translator for homeowner's association meetings, because those don't affect "the community". I did find out there's a yahoogroups e-mail list for interested homeowners and she was happy to provide contact information for the board members, so it wasn't a stonewalling situation... still, I'm frustrated.

I returned home and sent a request that the petition be added by the board to the agenda for next week's meeting and that translators be found so that a full and fair discussion could take place with these homeowners, even if they're just bi-lingual volunteers from the community or something. I was told that the budget only provides for translators for the annual meeting and "we" need to decide what "we" are willing to pay for... a discussion that is not taking place on a mailing list of 156 people (some of which are not even residents but are SHA or CDC employees) out of a community of between 560 and 840 actual homeowners)... and received a very strongly oppositional response from one of the list members right off the bat ("Using my capital to support people that ignore me and people like me is simply out of the question. In short I will not support any effort designed to make life easier for those that look down on me and people like me." and "I be damned if my funds will be used to support them in any fashion.") Of course, he's "not a racist". ::sigh:: Am I the ONLY person who has thought, "Hey, there's a Chinese Baptist church just on the other side of Beacon Avenue, maybe they could help us find an volunteer." or "High school students have a community service requirement for graduation, maybe we can find a couple of kids from the local high school willing to put in a couple of hours translating."?? It's us vs. them right off the bat?

Anyway, after that series of disappointments, I went home and got started on dinner.

A little baguette, a little brie, roasted beet, pistachio, and pear salad and some pan-seared scallops on linguine with tomato-cream sauce. I finished up with two individual chocolate chunk bread puddings (so rich I couldn't even finish mine but Pramas really liked his).

Awoke today with a nagging headache and touch of sore throat. Hope I'm not coming down with the plague that Jess came bearing on game night! We leave for New York Comic Con in a week and I just don't have time to feel like crap. Popping vitamins and echinacea and have some Zicam at the ready if it's needed. Ug.

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Anonymous Someone who knows, but isn't supposed to say Says:

I am sorry that my referral was not more helpful. Maybe the best approach is to focus on getting some assistance any assistance and worry about getting the petition itself translated later. With that in mind here are a couple of Services that maybe helpful:
International District Housing Alliance - 623-5132
Asain Counseling and Referral Services - 695- 7600 -
Chinese Information and Service Center - 624-5633

Bear in mind these services probably will not be free for your neighbor. But they may be helpful. They all have staff that speak a variety of languages including Chinese speakers of various dialects so communication maybe easier. I have included their phone number and their web site information.

It seems to me that there is a social justice compenent here. After all this is a mandatory HOA, they should provide some level of interpetation (spoken) and translation (written). Playing up the Social Justice angle might be helpful.

The city council (Licata and Steinbrueck) may be helpful in that respect. Maybe not. I thought you would have gotten more out of the Dept. of Neighborhoods, at least more useful referrals (I didn't think they could provide the interprtation or translation themselves.) But they have a whole race and social justice component. They do have some limitations working with private organizations, such as an HOA. But I would think that they can make a referral for the gentleman as an individual having some problems if not assist with the HOA. The city of Seattle is touting it's warmth and friendliness to immigrants and refugees. And DON should be able to at least refer you to something more helpful than the SHA Community Builder. Not that Joy doesn't mean well, I am sure. Even the SHA Community Builder should be able to provide the referrals I gave to you, I would think. Maybe I am wrong. The Chinese Baptist church might be helpful. But I would try University Students not High School students.

There are some other angles that your neighbor might try. Organizing a group of Chinese or Asian residents in that area to work on common concerns. That may enable the DON to be able to work with you. And New Holly is supposed to be getting a Community Council, soon. Some of the issues could be addressed there, I guess. Although, I think you would get a lot of resistance going that route from the powers that be. I suppose you could try the Seattle Human Rights Commission. And of course there is always the press.

As for the hostile dude you mentioned before, why on earth would he have problems with providing translation and interpretation services to anyone. He chose to live in a multi-cultural community. For all he knows he may be having the same problems as the Chinese neighbor you are trying to help and would benefit from finding common cause with him instead of fighting against translation and interpretation services.

Well, this can be very tiring and frustrating I am sure. Oppression often is. I don't know what else to tell you.

Anyway good luck hopefully this will be more helpful than what I offered before. I hate to waste your time or add to your frustration level.

Anonymous Someone who knows but isn't supposed to say Says:

Oh I forgot to mention, IDHA and the other Community Based Organizations do work with Asian immigrants on financial and home ownership issues. These CBO's have contracts with various funders to provide certain programs to certain populations and are somewhat limited to what they can do outside those programs and with other populations. They want to help immigrants and refugees obtain Home Ownership and then maintain it. So if a raise in Home Ownership dues threatens their ability to maintain their housing or delinquency damages their credit history, bringing those matters up may help in getting services.

I realize that this may seem complicated and maybe more than you bargained for but in the long run it actually may save you, your neighbor and his associates time and frustration in the long run. One of these organization may have even assisted your neighbor or his friends in getting into home ownership in the first place.

I really hope this is helpful.

Blogger Nikchick Says:

Thanks again, Someone. You've been a wealth of information. I'm a little uncomfortable being in the middle of this, I have my own battles to fight and responsibilities to uphold, but I'm willing to at least try to get information into the right hands and facilitate introductions so people can at least communicate about the community issues we're facing. It's the least I can do, really

Anonymous Someone who knows and isn't supposed to say Says:

That is as I thought. And fighting these battles will wear you down. I am certain there is some avenue out there, for at least the immigrants and the refugees. But exactly what it is, I am not entirely sure. I think there are people who do know. It is also a matter of asking for the right things, asking the right questions and connecting with the people who have the right connections.

These things can take time. And be very frustrating. People often give up and suffer in silence. They get very cynical and are less willing to try next time.

It may take time to figure out. But I would start looking for someone to just help your immigrant and refugee neighbors with the problem in an an immediate sense and the let them figure out the rest.

I will say what drew me to your blog was my interest in the HOA, but you have some other interesting items in here as well. I enjoy it very much. Good luck to you and to your neighbors on your various endeavors.


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