Startup Accelerator Spotlight: Ruby

Upzoning, developer fees, and taxing for “highest and best use” are displacing communities in Seattle. Ruby fights against the laws and shows others how to do the same.

Ruby never thought of advocating for communities as a business. Then she challenged herself to learn new business skills in the Startup Accelerator Program, and the game changed. Through coaching sessions with Kevin and classes with Wade, Ruby explores how to run her altruistic hobby like a business.

How it began

"When I returned to Seattle after 30 years, I intended to volunteer at the arboretum. Pollinators are one of my passions, and I wanted to plant flowers to support them. However, after attending a few community meetings, I immediately knew something was wrong. People were about to lose their homes."

Ruby explains that new upzoning laws push Seattle residents out of the neighborhoods. The laws remind Ruby of gentrification, fragmentation, and redlining- ways to displace minority communities legally.

"I saw people in total fear of losing their homes. Couples who were remodeling their homes had to put them on hold. Developers knocked on doors telling people to vacate the premises of the property they've owned for decades. Some were predatory and showed up with completed Purchase And Sell Agreements in hand. We were afraid."

Ruby advocates for homeowners

But the fear was not paralyzing. Instead, it spurred Ruby to action. She researched, attended city meetings, and hosted gatherings (in person, then online) where people experiencing this stress could find solace from one another. With all of the knowledge under her belt, Ruby began hosting workshops. 

"I wanted people to know how to keep their homes and make it work. There are options, and many people just pack up and leave because they don't know about them. We don't have to leave just because a developer knocks on our door. We have to do what's right for our families and ourselves. I often tell people to have a cup of tea and take a deep breath. It's hard to make a good decision when constantly running around stressed."

Using skills from the Startup Accelerator Program

On top of fighting the up-zoning laws, Ruby continues to host workshops, sends out e-newsletters, and supports bills that help individuals keep their homes. After coaching with Kevin, Ruby ordered custom-made business cards. Believe it or not, she painted the watercolor designs herself! Ruby created her slogan in StartUp Accelerate Program classes: "Imagine a lot." With more classes under her belt every day, Ruby is acquiring new skills to boost her business, Keep Your Habitat.

Although fear lingers in her mind, Ruby brings optimism to every conversation. She leaves people with a smile and a fire in their hearts. Ruby even advocated passing an Accessory Dwelling Units law, allowing secondary structures on residential property. She hopes that individuals can build cottages, basement apartments, garage apartments, or mother-in-law suites on their property so that family members can move in and stay close. 

"Priced out parents can now build a home on their children's lots and vice versa. It's unhealthy for families to be separated. Most older adults just want to age in place. They've been through hard times and want to stay in their paid-for homes. They don't want to start all over. I'm making sure they know that they don't have to. Fighting against the upzoning and developer fees is possible. I will fight, and I encourage others to do the same. I want to help the people of Seattle keep their hom

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