We are tenants who have struggled to afford to stay in this city. We have personally suffered from substandard living conditions, faced inhumane rent hikes, and fought unscrupulous landlords. We are also organizers, people who know the power of mobilizing communities to transform our lives and the lives of others.
We are tired of people who lack our lived experiences telling us what top-down solutions will solve our problems. Instead, we’re supporting the ground-up candidate who has organized alongside us for transformational change in tenants rights and affordable housing for all. That candidate is Jon Grant.
In a letter signed by dozens of organizers, supporters made clear that Grant’s successes are the kind of accomplishments we want to see more of.
Grant has changed national, state and city housing policy, impacting tens of thousands of tenants all over the country. Grant helped change national HUD policy when he organized with immigrant residents of the Downtowner apartments in the Chinatown/International District, and fought to remedy loopholes that led to displacement. That work not only prevented the eviction of about 200 tenants but also prevented the displacement of thousands more renters across the country by expanding access to Section 8 housing vouchers.
At the state level, Grant organized in coalition with housing advocates to expand tenant protections by revising the Residential Landlord Tenant Act for the first time in 15 years and won new tenant protections for survivors of domestic violence in 2013 with the Fair Tenant Screening Act.
He helped change city policy when he organized tenants to pass the Rental Registration & Inspection Ordinance in 2013, requiring the city to proactively enforce health and safety codes. More than 27,000 Seattle renters benefitted from this policy change. In 2014, he led the Tenants Union in organizing a citywide coalition to prevent Seattle Housing Authority's proposed rent hikes, which would have been upwards of 500 percent impacting more than 7,000 public housing tenants.
Throughout this campaign, Grant has prioritized the needs and concerns of our communities. He joined the Ethiopian Community in Seattle at City Hall to advocate for affordable senior housing. He supported the Chinatown/International District Coalition in advocating for higher MHA requirements and anti-displacement measures to prevent gentrification. He has organized with the Housing for All coalition to pass the HOMES tax, which would bring in $24 million a year for affordable housing, by ensuring that big businesses contribute their fair share.
Grant's opponent claims affordable housing bona fides. Yet she has been absent from these housing fights when the call to action has been to stand with us. She does not support Grant's proposal to tax Seattle’s biggest corporations to build 5,000 units of publicly owned affordable housing. She accepts donations from big developers and has been recommended by the largest landlord lobby in the state of Washington. On the most pressing opportunity to build affordable housing right now, the HOMES tax, Grant's opponent waffled on this proposal for two weeks about whether she would vote for the tax as written.
We can’t trust politicians who claim they have our interests in mind but hesitate to take firm positions on this grave affordability crisis. We already have too much of that at City Hall right now. We need a candidate who has consistently stood up to powerful developers, like when Grant stood with tenant leaders and refused a shakedown by Triad Capital over a $400 million project to build million-dollar condos on public land.
We do not see the housing crisis in our city in theoretical terms. We feel it and experience these hardships daily. We feel it in every rent increase, in every rebuke from our landlord when we have pests scurry through our homes, in every night our neighbors sleep outside because, even with a job (or two or three), they can’t afford housing.
We’re organizing for the candidate who will pass the right for tenants to collectively bargain their rents. We’re organizing for the candidate who will create an Office of the Tenant Advocate to enforce our human rights as renters. We’re organizing for the candidate who will ensure that big businesses and downtown developers contribute their fair share toward a more equitable and sustainable model. We’re organizing for Jon Grant.
Cha’ron Stewart-Silvano, tenant leader on Seattle Move-In Fee legislation
ChrisTiana ObeySumner, housing justice activist
Evan Sugden, former Lockhaven renter, member of Displaced Tenants for Accountability & Transparency
Yusuf Cabdi, former Seattle Housing Authority tenant leader, former SHA Board Commissioner