We Are In is a community coalition of King County unhoused and housed neighbors, local advocacy organizations and philanthropies, service providers, and businesses who are uniting to end homelessness and create more affordable homes in King County. This is the first in a series of posts that will introduce you to some of our partners and members. First up: Symetra Financial.
Symetra, a key partner of We Are In, is an insurance company headquartered in Bellevue with a strong commitment to social impact. Read our Q&A with Beth Osborne, Symetra’s Director of Local Public Affairs, below.
Q&A with Symetra Financial
In February 2022, Symetra and other private partners announced their commitment to support Partnership for Zero, a public-private collaboration to dramatically reduce unsheltered homelessness in targeted areas of King County, starting with Downtown Seattle and the Chinatown/International District. Partnership for Zero is showing us what is possible when private capital aligns with a new model of government strategy, allowing us to catalyze much-needed infrastructure and systems change.
What led Symetra to join Partnership for Zero? What felt different about this initiative?
Addressing housing affordability and homelessness is a core focus of Symetra Empowers Communities, a program that specifically works to reduce barriers and improve outcomes for underserved women, youth and BIPOC communities. That is what led us to join We Are In, a community coalition of local advocacy organizations, service providers, businesses and philanthropies working to end homelessness and build more affordable homes in King County. Partnership for Zero stands out because it prioritizes the needs of people with lived experience and unites a broad group of stakeholders – from community, government, philanthropy, advocates and businesses – on a common goal to house individuals experiencing chronic homelessness in downtown Seattle.
Can you speak more about the role that you believe Symetra and other private sector actors play in our region’s efforts to create more affordable housing? Why is private sector involvement key?
As a company committed to our people and our communities, Symetra believes that we can influence and drive meaningful, positive social change. We combine our support through nonprofit giving, advocacy, employee engagement, and partnerships. On a broad and challenging issue like affordable housing, we believe our efforts are most impactful when we work together with aligned community members, nonprofit partners and businesses.
What would you say to peer companies who are looking to make a difference in this area? Why should they act and what should they do?
All companies – small, medium and big – have a role to play, especially when it comes to working together. This issue is essential to the health and vitality of our region, not just from a community perspective, but also from a business perspective. Businesses thrive in healthy communities that feel welcoming and safe to employees, visitors and all community members. The quality of life in Washington state helps attract and retain the best talent in our small businesses and companies. Through funding, advocacy or both, companies can make a difference by joining coalitions or supporting nonprofits that align with their values.
Why is Symetra committed to ending homelessness and the affordable housing crisis in our region?
Our vision is to create a world where more people have access to financial freedom. Historically, it has been systems that have created barriers that ultimately lead to homelessness. We believe a concerted effort to increase affordable housing and end our homelessness crisis will drive the long-term change needed to improve outcomes for women, youth, and students from underserved BIPOC communities.