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Sawant Hails Tenants’ Win: Fighting Displacement & Securing Affordable Housing in Central District

“Residents of the Chateau Apartments & the tenants’ movement strike blow against gentrification, displacement”

SEATTLE Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), chair of the Council’s Human Services, Equitable Development and Renter Rights Committee, announced today that tenants her office has been working with at the Chateau Building have achieved a breakthrough victory in their fight against displacement.

Late last year, the tenants of the Chateau Building, at 19th and Fir in Seattle’s Central District, learned that Cadence Real Estate, the $185-million development corporation that owns the building, planned to demolish the 21 apartments and displace the tenants. Most of the Chateau tenants are retirees or working families of color, many of them immigrants. Residents range in age from newborn to 93. Most of the tenants are low-income, and had nowhere else to go. 

But working with Councilmember Sawant, the Tenants Union of Washington, Be:Seattle, the faith community, and labor allies, the Chateau tenants organized and fought back. They presented demands to Cadence executives, for the company to find affordable housing for them in the neighborhood, pay for their relocation, and commit to a longer transition time.

On Wednesday, Cadence conceded to the tenants’ core demands in a letter to all of the Chateau residents. They agreed in writing to:

  • Relocate all of the low-income Chateau residents to one of two new affordable housing buildings operated by the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) – one in the Central District, the other in the Chinatown/International District;
  • Give each household $5,000 for relocation assistance, above the $3,900 that low-income households receive as part of the City’s Tenant Relocation Assistance Program
  • Delay redevelopment so that tenants could stay at the Chateau longer and move out without being rushed.

“This is the kind of victory that is thought of as impossible, but becomes a reality through ordinary people refusing to roll over for corporate interests, and getting organized to fight back. This is a victory not just for the Chateau tenants, but for renters throughout our region,” said Councilmember Sawant

“This is a stunning blow delivered by our movement against gentrification and displacement, and a shining example for tenants citywide,” Sawant added.

Renee Holmes, who cares for her 88-year-old aunt, Mother Gordon, who has lived at the Chateau for three decades, said: “We had to get up and fight for what’s right. When we got organized and put the pressure on, Cadence saw we were serious. We stood firm, and today we won.” 

The tenants, along with Councilmember Sawant and allies, organized delegations to Cadence to demand their rights. They rallied, held press conferences, and garnered hundreds of petition signatures from community supporters. Councilmember Sawant convened a meeting of the Human Services, Equitable Development, and Renter Rights Committee to expose Cadence’s attempt to overrun the tenants.

“Chateau tenants have shown that it is possible for tenants to fight back against greedy corporate developers and landlords. This is a victory in the larger fight to stop the economic eviction of working people, communities of color, seniors, disabled community members, LGBTQ people, and students from Seattle’s Central District to satisfy the mega-profits of big developers,” Sawant said. 

Rev. Angela Ying, senior pastor at Bethany United Church of Christ and a key community leader for tenants’ rights, congratulated the Chateau residents for their tenacity and resilience in the fight. “Everyone deserves a loving home,” she said. “When we, in faith and love, stand with our neighbors facing eviction, rising rent, and homelessness, then we all win.”

Sawant congratulated LIHI for their role in securing housing for the Chateau tenants. “LIHI is doing crucial work in our community, and we need even more affordable housing to get built – now,” she said. “That’s why we are building a campaign to win rent control, free of corporate loopholes. We also need to tax the ultra-rich like Jeff Bezos and Amazon, so that we can fund a massive expansion of affordable, high-quality social housing.”

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