Sign up to support our incarcerated loved ones in the fight for our Second Look bill

Our criminal justice system is deeply unfair and the laws on the books keep our loved ones incarcerated longer for no good reason. But, Washington CAN is fighting for a state bill that, if enacted into law, would give our loved ones an opportunity to return home earlier. Together, we can win.

Join our effort to make our system more just!

We have a chance to pass legislation during the 2020 state legislative session that would enact a Community Review Board to review incarcerated people’s sentences to see whether they’re ready to come back home. That’s why we’re organizing for change. As families of people who are incarcerated, we have power to change the system.

Sign up to join the effort to give our loved ones a path to come home.

Questions? Contact Waldo Wadron-Ramsey at waldo@washingtoncan.org

Washington CAN launches Stable Homes Initiative to pass tenant protections in Federal Way

Washington CAN members are taking on the housing crisis with a bold grassroots effort to enact an initiative, Stable Homes, in Federal Way to enact stronger renter protections on the local level. Many Federal Way families are facing displacement in the form of rapid, unjust, and retaliatory evictions.

Ginny Ferguson, a resident of Federal Way for about 30 years, received a 20-day no-cause termination notice after raising concerns with her landlord about water leaking  into her carpet and mold. “My lease should have been renewed,” Ferguson said. “I shouldn’t have had to go through, and my daughter should not have had to go through, what we went through. No child should have to go through being homeless.”

The Stable Homes Initiative will require landlords to have ‘good cause’ before evicting a tenant or refusing to renew a lease. The initiative will also allow renters to live with their immediate family. Further, the initiative will prohibit discriminatory evictions based upon renter’s status as a member of the military, first responder, senior, family member, health care provider, or educator.

Both landlords and homeowners support this measure. “This initiative is not a threat to landlords who practice fair and equitable property management. As a landlord I provide an essential need - a home for my renters. They should have basic protections to ensure they aren't arbitrarily evicted from their home,” said Tatomya Wimbish, a small landlord who rents out one property in Federal Way.

Federal Way City Councilmembers Jesse Johnson (D) and Martin Moore (R) both endorse the Stable Homes initiative. Moore said, “I ran for office to  help and advocate for working families - so I fully support this initiative. As an elected official, it is my paramount duty to insure that all have a quality of life and with this initiative, we will keep families housed while acknowledging how much we value our veterans, first responders, educators, health care providers, and seniors by protecting them from discriminatory evictions.”

“I am strongly in favor of this transformational initiative,” Johnson said. “These protections are a game changer to protect tenants against any unethical landlord, particularly our historically disenfranchised and marginalized communities who do not have the socio-economic or political power to advocate for themselves.  This initiative provides a fair and equitable safety net for the many renters in our community including our young families, seniors, veterans and other vulnerable populations.”

According to a survey of 129 Federal Way voters performed in the past week by Washington CAN, 86.5% supported a law that would require landlords to have a reason defined in law to terminate a tenancy. Of those surveyed, 63.2% said that if this measure was on the ballot, it would make them more likely to vote. Homeowners represented 63.5% of those surveyed.

“Over the past several years, community members have passed strong renter protections on the local and state levels. Yet, even in the face of the region’s worse housing crisis, there is incredible resistance from lawmakers to support protections like good-cause eviction that keep families and communities stably housed,” said Xochitl Maykovich, campaign manager for Stable Homes Federal Way. “Given that similar legislation did not pass the legislature even with such profound need for these protections, we felt obligated to take the fight to the ballot.”

The campaign is currently collecting signatures. In order to qualify for the November 2019 election, the campaign needs 7,049 valid signatures of Federal Way voters.


PRESS RELEASE: Washington Tenants Organized and Won Eviction Reform

Tenants are celebrating the biggest reform to the landlord-tenant act in decades. Today, the legislature passed SB 5600, a bill introduced in response to community demands for a more just eviction process. We expect the bill to be signed by Gov. Jay Inslee and to go into effect later this summer.

Gina Owens, a long-time Washington CAN member who shared her personal story with eviction, testified in front of lawmakers, and connected with tenants facing eviction to help them organize their own neighbors, said “I am incredibly excited this legislation has passed. As someone who lived through two years of homelessness due to eviction, I know how much this will help people who fall behind on rent due to health emergencies like I did. By passing this bill, lawmakers are telling tenants that we matter.”

As detailed in Losing Home: The Human Cost of Eviction, a report authored by the Seattle Women’s Commission and the King County Bar Association Housing Justice Project, Washington’s previous eviction process desperately need reform. The leading reason tenants faced eviction was for falling behind a month or less on rent, most tenants fell into homelessness, and communities of color were disproportionately impacted by eviction.

This new legislation creates a more equitable and humane eviction process. The notice period for nonpayment of rent will go from only three days to 14 days. Judges will be able to use their discretion to order solutions that keep tenants housed and ensure landlords get paid, such as requiring payment plans to pay back-rent.

Washington CAN members organized over the past year across the state and demanded justice from their landlords and their lawmakers. Examples of this organizing include:

● Keilani Luxmore, a young Seattle mother, testified to lawmakers on this bill sharing her experience getting an eviction notice for falling behind on rent by only $2.

● Violeta Sialer, a school bus driver, immigrant, and single mother in Issaquah; exposed Washington’s flawed eviction laws when she organized her neighbors in low-income housing to push back against her landlord who had repeatedly issued evictions to tenants over trivial issues.

● Sarah Stewart, an evicted tenant who pushed the Seattle Housing Authority to reform their eviction policies

We’re proud to support the movement tenants are leading, and grateful for the support of coalition partners and organizations that stand with tenants who are organizing. The Washington Low-Income Housing Alliance used their institutional knowledge to help shepard this bill through the legislature. The Tacoma Tenants Organizing Committee and the Tenants Union of Washington pushed lawmakers to support this bill. The King County Bar Association’s Housing Justice Project has been a critical ally in this fight - their attorneys represent tenants every day facing eviction, and used this experience and knowledge to help craft this landmark legislation that will ease our eviction crisis.

We are also grateful for the leadership demonstrated by legislators fighting for this legislation. Senator Patty Kuderer and Representative Nicole Macri introduced eviction reform legislation and worked with stakeholders to develop a strong policy. Representative Laurie Jinkins, as a committee chair, helped pushed this bill through the process. Representative Melanie Morgan shared her own experience of eviction with both the public and her colleagues on the floor.

Grassroots organizing is the key to winning critical victories for racial, economic, and gender justice - victories like today’s passage of Eviction Reform. Statewide, tenants are building power collectively to enact common sense protections for our communities and we look forward to the next fight.

Landlord expresses racism as motivation for evicting tenants at Senate Hearing in Olympia


We know that evictions, and how they play out, are functionally racist, but we rarely get to hear landlords explicitly announce racism as their motivation for eviction.

Today, a landlord  told lawmakers at a hearing for SB 5733, which can be found at 1:23 in the hearing video, a bill that would end no-cause terminations of tenancy, that the reason people of color are disproportionately evicted was due to drug use and “psychosis.”

“Why do we have such high (eviction) numbers with minorities and these other groups? Well I’m just going to be blunt. Drugs and alcohol is the thing as a landlord that I face. Psychosis is something I face.” the landlord said. Luckily Sen. Hobbs and Sen. Hasegawa stepped up to point out the offensive statements made in the hearing.

While these remarks were deeply offensive, what was doubly striking was the call from Sen. Mark Mullet for both sides to find “common ground.” Unfortunately, Sen. Mullet did not even point out the landlord’s statement as racist or even offensive.

Not only are we disappointed by landlords relying on racist testimony to counter our efforts to make humane reforms to the eviction process that already exists in other states like Ohio, Tennessee, and South Carolina, but we are disappointed that our lawmakers continue to insist tenants of color work with landlords who, not only defend structural racism, but also express blatant racism towards tenants.

Washington CAN, an organization led by a woman of color, with a majority of women of color organizers who organize low-income tenants and tenants of color, cannot find common ground with explicit racism. This exchange is an example of exactly why we need this eviction reform. We urge the legislature to also stand against explicit racism by passing these eviction reform bills.