Organizing to Protect Renters
The COVID-19 pandemic left many thousands of King County households unable to pay rent and at risk of eviction. This year, TRU stepped up to build and lead a countywide coalition called Stay Housed Stay Healthy. We fought for emergency protections to keep renters in their homes, and for stronger permanent protections to shift the balance of power between renters and landlords for good. We organized with renters and successfully passed powerful legislation in jurisdictions around King County:
Emergency Renter Protections
- Kenmore: Enacted a local eviction moratorium from July 1, 2021 through Jan. 15, 2022. Created a legal defense to prevent future evictions due to rental debt accrued during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Burien: Enacted a local eviction moratorium from July 1, 2021 through Jan. 15, 2022.
- Kirkland: Enacted a local eviction moratorium from July 1 through Sept. 30, 2021.
- Seattle: Extended a local eviction moratorium through Jan. 15, 2022. Created a legal defense to prevent future evictions due to rental debt accrued during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Permanent Renter Protections
Seattle: Closed the “lease loophole” in Seattle’s Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, ensuring that ALL renters are protected from arbitrary & unjust evictions. Supported legislation requiring six-months notice of rent increases and landlord-paid relocation assistance if a tenant has to move after a rent increase of 10% or more.
King County Council: Won a pathbreaking package of renter protections for unincorporated areas of the county like Skyway and White Center, including:
- ALL renters are protected from eviction or lease termination without a “just cause.”
- Move-in fees are capped at 1-month rent and renters can pay in installments.
- Late fees are capped at 1.5% of monthly rent.
- For rent increases greater than 3%, landlords must give 120 days notice.
- Renters on fixed incomes can change their rent due date.
- You don’t need a Social Security Number to apply for a rental home.
This legislation creates a high standard we’ll work to match in cities around King County in 2022.
Unmasking False Compassion
TRU, together with the ACLU of Washington and the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, brought a successful lawsuit to knock the “Compassion Seattle” initiative off the ballot. In addition to being illegal and misleading, this measure was far from a good faith effort to address the homelessness crisis. Instead, it was a cynical unfunded mandate backed by big business interests that don’t want to pay their taxes. TRU also joined the House Our Neighbors coalition to put forward real solutions: housing, shelter & services at scale.
Taking on Big Tech
Amazon has accumulated enormous power over our economy and our lives. But what is a monopoly? What are its dangers and how are we impacted as residents, consumers and workers? And what can we do about it? TRU co-hosted a teach-in with Puget Sound Sage, with special guests from the Washington State Attorney General’s Office Antitrust Division, to dig into these timely questions.
State Legislative Wins
The remote legislative session allowed TRU’s members and supporters to participate as never before. We set up many virtual meetings with individual legislators, testified at hearings, signed in “PRO” or “CON” on bills, sent emails and made phone calls. Working with allies, TRU’s pressure helped to win big victories like renter protections, criminal-legal system reform, the HEAL Act, Working Families Tax Credit and a capital gains tax.
Organizing for a Solidarity Budget
TRU is a core member of the Solidarity Budget coalition, fighting for a vision of an equitable city where all of us can thrive. Thanks to this powerful coalition work, Seattle is the only city in the U.S. to shrink its policing budget two years running. Our pressure helped to restore the JumpStart Seattle corporate tax revenue to its intended purposes, including major ongoing investments in new affordable housing and equitable development. With the MASS coalition, we expanded investments in safe streets for walking, biking and rolling. And more!
Sustaining Our Unsheltered Neighbors
The pandemic has been especially hard on homeless people, and homeless deaths are near a record high. This year, TRU’s camp outreach project turned over $50,000 into food, propane, batteries, water and other basic necessities for our neighbors sleeping outside. This project is powered by TRU members’ volunteer labor, cooking meals and visiting camps every weekend, and funded entirely by individual donations from TRU members and supporters.
ORCA Passes for Afghan Refugees
When refugee families began arriving in the Seattle area from Afghanistan this fall, TRU stepped up. We raised over $2,500 from individual donations from our members and supporters, and used these funds to purchase loaded adult and youth ORCA passes for the Muslim Community Resource Center to give to refugees in need of transportation in their new home.