by Jake Goldstein-Street
(This article was originally published on Capitol Hill Seattle Blog and has been reprinted with permission.)
The Seattle City Council unanimously approved “right to counsel” legislation Monday that will entitle residential tenants facing eviction to an attorney at no cost.
The vote on this legislation, sponsored by District 3 Councilmember Kshama Sawant, was originally scheduled for two weeks ago but was delayed via Council vote to sort out possible legal concerns. The original bill could have faced a lawsuit since it looked to give everyone the right to legal counsel regardless of income. Washington’s State constitution prohibits cities from giving money to people “except for the necessary support of the poor and infirm.”
Continue reading Seattle City Council Passes Sawant Plan to Fund Lawyers for Tenants Facing Eviction
by Kshama Sawant, Violet Lavatai, Zoe Schurman, David Parsons, Nickelsville Central Committee, Matt Remle, Juan Jose Bocanegra, Tim Harris, Shaun Scott, and Kailyn Nicholson
The notice on her door was jolting: You have to move because the apartment building is being demolished to make way for more a profitable housing development. It was the fourth time that Esther “Little Dove” John, a retired psychology professor and long-time Beacon Hill resident, has been “demovicted” in Seattle — forced out of her home by big developers.
Continue reading Fighting for the City We Need
by José Camacho and Hana Alicic
There are well over 300,000 renters in the City of Seattle, but there are very few citizens who fully understand tenants’ rights. This is not for lack of trying. The Tenants Union of Washington provides empowerment-based tenant education services, and so far this year we have spoken with roughly 1,800 renters on our hotline and have worked with over 1,000 in our workshops. Unfortunately, we’re only able to speak with 1/3 of the people who attempt to reach out to us for help, and there are countless others who are unaware of the services that we provide. Because of the need, we were heartened by Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s 2016 budget amendment to increase funding for tenant education and organizing. This amendment was accepted as part of the budget in a vote earlier this week. This decision was inline with the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, which suggested that $750,000 be budgeted for landlord-tenant education and outreach as well as legal aid for low-income residents. Continue reading Op-Ed: Tenants Must Know Their Rights, Then Fight For Them