The Tacoma Tenants Organizing Committee wants the city to adopt more tenant protections. Donna Seay is part of the group that says renters need the city to pass an ordinance.

Seay wants the protections after experiencing hardships and homelessness.

“I only make $770 a month. I didn’t ask to become disabled, but I did,” said Seay. “I’ve been homeless a lot in my life. I’ve lived on the street since I was 8-years-old.”

She was living at the Tiki Apartments in Tacoma last spring.

Seay said, “I came home one night, and I had two papers stuck to my door. One was, ‘We are the new owners.’ The other one was, ‘You have to vacate the premises within these 20 days.'”

The place she had called home was going to be renovated, and that meant residents had to move out.

Tiki tenants decided to team up and keep showing up at City Hall. Now Donna sees it paying off.

“The city is hearing us, and it is really important,” she said.

Ahead of Tuesday night’s city council meeting, Chris Heer was waiting in line to sign up for the public comment period.

“I’m worried that I won’t even be able to find a place,” said Heer, who also received a 20-day notice to vacate. “There’s nothing out there under a thousand dollars a month.”

The Tacoma City Council is considering an ordinance that would provide tenant protections, like requiring a landlord to give 60 days notice before terminating tenancy, and paying relocation assistance in certain circumstances.

Heather Pierce with the Rental Housing Association of Washington warns about the impact on single-family home rental properties.

“Our biggest concern is that there are zero exemptions for small business property owners,” said Pierce. “It can really cause hardship and maybe cause them to go out of business.”

The debate is far from over, and Seay wants to be there every step of the way.

“I have a passion to fight for tenant protections here within our city,” said Seay.

Seay is among some of the displaced Tiki Apartment tenants who can move back in when renovations are complete. The affordable apartments will house community college students too under a new agreement between the owner, the college and Tacoma Housing Authority.

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Thumbnail photo by Miguel Machado on Unsplash.