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VICTORY! Rainier Court Tenants Organize & Force Landlord, SEED, to Rescind Exploitative Rent Increases for Nearly 600 Low-Income Tenants, Mostly Seniors!

Rally & March TODAY, Friday, at 1pm

  • Celebrate Enormous Victory Forcing SEED to Rescind Rent Increases for Nearly 600 Tenants
  • Demand SEED Fix Code Violations, Refund All Rent Increases, & Publicly Promise No Rent Increases Through 2022 

 A landlord being forced to rescind exploitative rent increases is a huge victory, and happens only when tenants get organized with a fighting strategy and community solidarity. But we cannot be complacent. NOW is the time to keep the pressure up to win our demands in FULL for ALL tenants. 

Rainier Court tenants together with my office, faith leaders, and community supporters will be marching to the landlord (SEED) offices this afternoon to celebrate this powerful victory and demand SEED fix code violations, refund all rent increases & publicly promise no rent increases through 2022.

Dear Friends,

I am thrilled to announce that we have won an ENORMOUS VICTORY in the ongoing struggle of the nearly 600 tenants at Rainier Court in Mount Baker! 

Yesterday, just hours after tenants and our office announced TODAY’s 1pm Rally and March to SEED offices, tenants and my office were informed that the landlord (SEED) had conceded to our fighting struggle, and is rescinding exploitative rent increases for all of the nearly 600 low-income tenants, mostly Black and Brown and seniors.      

This stunning victory, forcing the landlord to retract huge rent increases, comes after a little over ten days of serious organizing by the tenants with my office around a fighting strategy. 

Rainier Court, a complex of four buildings (the Dakota, Columbia Gardens, Spokane, and Courtland Place), is owned by SEED (a non-profit that receives public funds), and is managed by for-profit property manager, COAST. 

The vast majority of the tenants are working-class, fixed-income seniors from the Black community and East African immigrant community members. Many face disabilities, and many are on federal Section 8 housing vouchers. For months and in some cases years, they have been contacting the landlord and the property manager about pervasive problems in the apartments, such lack of heating, mold, bed bug and cockroach infestation, hallways with accumulating garbage, the absence of internet access for low-income residents, broken stoves and refrigerators, non-functioning toilets, and leaking ceilings. On top, SEED had the shamelessness to increase their rents by an exploitative $100 or even more in some cases!

My office was contacted last month by a number of the tenants, after having struggled in vain for years to get SEED and COAST to address their concerns, and then receiving unjust rent increases.

My office joined the tenants at an important rally Wednesday October 20th, covered in a KOMO story, and in articles by The Stranger and the Emerald. Then on Wednesday October 27th, we hosted a press conference, where many tenants offered moving testimony about the deplorable living conditions they have faced for months and even years, and the outrageous rent increases on top of that. That same day, I sent a public letter to SEED and COAST, demanding that they immediately rescind the rent increases and fix the numerous housing code violations that have led to deplorable living conditions. 

My office’s staff, Alvin, Bia, and Nick, whom many of you might know and recognize at this point, have talked to hundreds of tenants. We held an organizing meeting Friday October 29th, with more than 75 tenants in attendance. Following that, tenants spoke eloquently at public comment during the Seattle City Council meeting this past Monday. 

A landlord being forced to rescind exploitative rent increases is a huge victory, and happens only when tenants get organized with a fighting strategy and community solidarity. But we cannot be complacent. NOW is the time to keep the pressure up to demand SEED fix code violations, refund all rent increases & publicly promise no rent increases through 2022!

As we have said before: What does it mean to say Black Lives Matter when hundreds of Black and Brown working-class renters, low-income seniors in this case, can be forced to live in nightmarish conditions, then subjected to unjust rent increases en masse which will lead to continued displacement of our Black and Brown neighbors? Thousands of working-class renters face a similar predicament throughout the city. And tens of thousands are facing skyrocketing rents.

Governor Inslee’s recent shameful decision to let the remaining meager parts of the statewide eviction moratorium expire only adds to renters’ precarious circumstances.

Seattle renters should remember our movement and our office succeeded in winning a 6-month continuation of the moratorium in Seattle after the statewide moratorium expired, and are therefore still largely protected. It shows that renters and working people getting organized and fighting back genuinely yields results. We will need this fighting approach to win tenant struggles like at Rainier Court, and to win strong rent control citywide.

In solidarity,

Kshama

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