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Coalition Letter to City Council: Drop the Threat of a Competing Ballot Measure
Dear Mayor Woodards and Tacoma City Council Members,
Over the last five years, landlords have hiked rents by 43% in Pierce County. With half of tenants in Tacoma officially rent burdened, even small rent hikes deepen the cruel and disruptive cycle of displacement of our most vulnerable neighbors, with women and communities of color hit the hardest.
Landlords in Pierce County are also evicting our neighbors at the highest rate in the state. As attorneys from Tacomaprobono’s Housing Justice Project have pointed out, a big part of the problem is our far weaker tenant protections compared to King and other counties.
Clearly, there is an urgent need for bold policies to address the housing crisis and the cascading impacts to our schools, our social services, and the social fabric of our communities.
That is why we are urging you to step back from your threat to launch a competing ballot measure to the Tenant Bill of Rights. Instead, we urge you to quickly pass your proposed changes to the Rental Housing Code, which complement rather than compete with Initiative 2023-01. Between them, we could win even more comprehensive protections. If they compete, we could all lose.
While your proposed changes do not go far enough, most are positive and we respect the hard work of city staff, stakeholders, and council members who drafted them. Nonetheless, forcing voters into a false choice between the Tenant Bill of Rights and your weaker tenant protections would be a gift to the big landlords. It would place Tacoma City Council into an alliance with groups like Rental Housing Association and the Multi-Family Housing Association, and in opposition to tenants, organized labor, and the growing coalition of community and faith groups behind the Tenant Bill of Rights.
We understand that genuine concerns exist over the challenges small and non-profit landlords could face if Initiative 2023-01 passes. However, we remain confident that these concerns can be addressed through additional ordinance and – more importantly – that even small landlords are in a far stronger position to absorb cost increases than their most vulnerable tenants. Losing a renter still leaves landlords with passive income from their real estate investments. For renters forced out of their homes, the stakes are often far more dire.
Do the right thing. We urge you to endorse, or at least do nothing to harm, the growing coalition effort to pass the Tenant Bill of Rights this November.
Beverly Allen* -Founding Partner, The Law Office of Beverly Allen
Justin Camarata* - Former Tacoma City Council Member and Chair, 27th LD Democrats
Kimi Irene Ginn* - Activist with Vibrant Schools
Devin Glaser* - Staff Attorney, Tenant Law Center
Bill Hanawalt - Former Tacoma School Board Candidate, progressive landlord
Andra Kranzler* - Directing Attorney, Tenant Law Center
Chelsea McElroy* - Director, Tacoma Public Schools Board, Position 4
Sally Perkins - Longtime community activist, progressive landlord
Cathy Pick - Lead Advocate, Tacoma Tenants Union
Devin Rydel Kelly *- Director, Foundation for Tacoma Students
Jamika Scott - City of Tacoma Council District 3 candidate
Yasmin Trudeau* - State Senator, Washington State 27th Legislative District
MIchael Whalen* - United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) 367 Shop Steward and Pierce County Central Labor Council Executive Board Member
The Conversation 253
The Law Office of Beverly Allen
Mayor’s Youth Commission of Tacoma
Pierce County Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Tacoma & Pierce County Democratic Socialists of America
Tacoma For All
Tacoma Tenants Union
Transit Riders Union
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 367
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 3000
Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund
Washington Low Income Housing Alliance
* Organizational affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.