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.