On March 6th, a rainy Wednesday evening, The WildRose bar hosted a Seattle Tenants Rights Bootcamp for members of the Capitol Hill community from six to eight PM. Fitting for the venue itself, this workshop was curated specifically for LGBTQ tenants and citizens of Seattle living on Capitol Hill . Presented as an opportunity for community members to absorb information surrounding housing laws and rights, this two-hour workshop was presented by Be:Seattle, Seattle Socialist Alternative, and the office for councilwoman Kshama Sawant. Other organizations tabling or speaking included Gender Justice League, Seattle Pride at Work foundation, and the Northwest Network. All of these groups would join together to speak their mind on a pressing and important issue in our community- housing laws and tenant rights for renters.
The event took place in a side room, the area is usually a raucous dance floor, but this evening was reserved for guest speakers and rights activists to share their knowledge of the always changing socio-political housing landscape in Seattle. Adam Ziemkowski, from the office of Kshama Sawant, and Devin Silvernail of Be:Seattle stayed upfront and clear about the purpose of this event- to share information, and to inspire tenants to become active and organize together. This was the sixth “boot camp” style workshop designed to promote community awareness with the increasing tension surrounding housing in Seattle, other events have been held in the Central District, West Seattle, University District, and Vermillion Bar on Capitol Hill.
As councilwoman Kshama Sawant pointed out early in the evening, “rent has increased by 150 % since 1998, and 65% since 2010,” a statement that came with subdued alarm from the audience of mostly working-class folks eager to learn more about their rights as tenants. This would segue into a presentation regarding state laws, regulations, and obligations of the present housing climate.
As Amy Tower of the Tenants Union of Washington State would highlight, “we in Seattle are very lucky, we have more resources for renters’ protection than in all other parts of the state of Washington,” and the more information a renter may have regarding their rights, the better chance of having support over any unjust actions taken by landlords or housing authorities. Silvernail and Tower gave an hour-long presentation highlighting lease rights before and during lease periods, details of the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance, and tips to navigate the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. The presenters emphasized many times that the most effective way to ensure visibility in a situation is to document every interaction with a landlord or property management team, whether that be pictures, audio, or written notes of an event.
This Tenant Rights Bootcamp Workshop, according to Debby Carlson, Executive Director at LGBTQ Allyship, is designed to support “people who are most impacted by rental issues, i.e people of color, disabled tenants, and LGBTQIA individuals” and to empower these disproportionately discriminated against groups “to be at the center of solutions.” The next event with Seattle Tenant Bootcamps will be on Saturday, March 16th at 1pm at New Hope Church on 21st and Fir, as a rally for Chateau Apartments in their current struggle to maintain rent control for their building. Below are all of the organizations involved with this workshop, and further resources surrounding tenant rights for all citizens of Seattle and the Greater Eastside that support the idea that all citizens of Seattle deserve to live in a habitable space free of discrimination.
Tenant Rights and Information PDF from City of Seattle: https://www.seattle.gov/DPD/cs/groups/pan/@pan/documents/web_informational/dpdd016420.pdf
Be: Seattle- https://beseattle.com/
Gender Justice League: https://www.genderjusticeleague.org/
LGBTQ Allyship: http://allyship.org/
Pride at Work: https://www.prideatwork.org/
The Northwest Network: https://www.nwnetwork.org/
Socialist Alternative: https://www.socialistalternative.org/