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"Our Fight Has Only Just Begun"
Voters Approve Strongest Tenant Protections in the State
By Tacoma for All Steering Committee
With nearly all ballots counted, Citizens Initiative No. 1, the Tenant Bill of Rights has secured a narrow victory. On Monday the Pierce County Elections office said they had finished counting all but 350 ballots countywide, and Initiative 1 was ahead by 331 votes.
“Against the odds, Tacoma tenants just won the strongest protections in Washington State,” said Campaign Manager Ty Moore. “Our grassroots movement overcame an intense disinformation campaign from a deep-pocketed opposition that shattered all spending records for Tacoma city-wide elections. We overcame the City Council’s attempt to put a competing measure on the ballot. It’s a real David vs Goliath moment and a historic victory for 100,000 Tacoma renters.”
“This is a victory for working families in Tacoma, bringing stability, safety, and security to our community,” said Cathy Pick, a renter whose family was nearly evicted in October before Tacoma for All organizers rallied to prevent her eviction. “As a tenant dreadfully watching as rental rates keep skyrocketing, I am beyond grateful for these new and necessary protections. I have hope for our future.”
An early endorser of the initiative, State Senator Yasmin Trudeau said the victory will have statewide ramifications. “Tacoma voters passing the Tenant Bill of Rights has big implications for local and state lawmakers,” she said. “This victory shows that Washington is ready for a new conversation about tenant rights and that we are advancing in our understanding of housing justice.”
Michael Hines, President of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 367, emphasized labor’s central role in the victory. “As the largest union in Pierce County, UFCW 367 was proud to help initiate and lead the campaign,” Hines said. “The labor movement backed Initiative 1 because housing costs keep rising faster than wages, forcing more and more workers into housing insecurity. To secure a decent standard of living, dignity, and hope for the future, our movement needs to look beyond the workplace and fight for the whole person where they live. This is how we create real and lasting change.”
Justin Camarata, Chair of the 27th LD Democrats, outlined the wider political implications for Tacoma politics. “This victory shows that Tacoma voters are looking for bolder leadership to address the housing affordability crisis. The coalition behind Initiative #1 was able to overcome the most expensive opposition campaign in Tacoma history because we went out and talked to thousands of our neighbors. This shows that when we unite together, we can build the grassroots power needed to win.”
Ann Dorn, Co-chair of Tacoma-Pierce County chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and a leader of Tacoma for All, added: “I’m so proud of DSA for initiating the broad coalition for Initiative #1. This is not the first time in US history that democratic socialists have pioneered the way for progress. We live in an era of unprecedented inequality, and the fact that out-of-state billionaires, corporate landlords, and real estate interests were prepared to break all spending records against us underscores that without a fighting working-class movement, things will only get worse. Tacoma DSA is growing fast, and our fight for affordable housing for all has only just begun.”
“The Tenant Bill of Rights is a huge step forward, but our goal is to ensure stable, quality, affordable housing for all in Tacoma,” Moore added. “We cannot rely on the private market to solve the growing shortage of affordable housing, much less to build walkable, green, climate-resilient neighborhoods. We must put the fight for rent stabilization and social housing firmly on the agenda.”
For more information, visit www.Tacoma4All.org.