Yes on I-127 effort underway to put Seattle rent transparency initiative on ballot

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Current rental cost datasets must be collected from sources like Craigslist while developers often have access to the most robust reporting based on property management analysis

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 4.11.25 PM On Monday, the City Council is expected to approve formation of the Seattle Renters’ Commission, thought to be the first commission of its kind representing tenant interests at a United States city hall. Another group is beginning its work in the rain this Friday afternoon to also create a better, more transparent, and more trackable future for Seattle renters.

Yes on I-127 have been given approval to begin collecting the some 16,000 20,638 or signatures they will need to get their initiative on the ballot calling for Seattle landlords to provide detailed breakdowns of rents and rent increases to tenants and share that information with the city. “By breaking down costs included in monthly rent, tenants can better understand cost of rents and rent increases associated with their homes,” the group contends. “They can also use this information to plan and prepare for the future.” Proponents say the initiative would give the city “an apparatus to track rent trends.” “This allows both the city and its residents to study and understand our rental market,” they write.

Devin Silvernail tells CHS the initiative is an outgrowth of volunteers coming together through the tenant bootcamps his Be:Seattle is organizing across the city. The next camp, by the way, is next week in the Central District.

Silvernail said the effort to collect signatures for I-127 by September to make the ballot this fall — 10% of the total number of votes in the last mayoral election is the goal — is underway and you should expect to see volunteers around Capitol Hill Station.

You can learn more at whatsinmyrent.com.

Capitol Hill tenant rights group wants your voice to support Seattle Renters’ Commission legislation

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 3.18.44 PMLegislation to form a first in the nation City Hall commission representing tenants could have its final session in front of a Seattle City Council committee Wednesday and the Capitol Hill Renters Initiative is calling for a show of support to help push the bill through to a final vote:

We need renters at this meeting to show the Council and the City that we are civically engaged and eager to have our voices heard. As we move closer to the full council vote, we must continue to show up at key events for this ground-breaking piece of legislation. Equally as important as attending this meeting, we need renters there to give a short (1-2 min) testimony. This testimony could be as simple as sharing your renter story and expressing your opinion on this piece of legislation. See you there!

Can’t attend this meeting? Take 5 minutes to email/call the council!
Council contact information here:
https://www.seattle.gov/council/meet-the-council

The legislation will be part of the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods, and Finance Committee’s morning session starting with public comment at 9:30 AM. Take a moment to add a brief email comment tonight.

CHS wrote here on early support for the Seattle Renters’ Commission. A substitute version of the bill will be up for discussion Wednesday. You can see the draft marked with changes in red here (PDF). You’ll note that the express inclusion of “renters who have experienced homelessness” as a desired part of the commission’s makeup is the most significant change.

The bill would create a 15-member commission to give renters in the city a voice on not only tenant rights and affordability issues but also related concerns like transportation access and economic development. It is also hoped to help further shape initiatives under the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

UPDATE: The legislation has been passed out of committee and will head to the full council on Monday where it is expected to be approved. Officials hope for the commission to begin meeting this summer after a spring application and approval process.

Proposed Seattle Renters’ Commission will tackle tenant rights, affordability

Capitol Hill’s calls for a Seattle Renters’ Commission will soon be answered creating what is likely the first such official body in the nation.

CHS has learned legislation to create a 15-member commission to represent tenants rights and weigh in on issues of development and affordability could be introduced as early as Monday.

“The goal is to attract folks across the whole spectrum,” the Capitol Hill Community Council’s Zachary DeWolf said. “Families, seniors, geographic diversity, vouchers, newer units, older units. Everyone.”

The offices of Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess, Mike O’Brien, and Lisa Herbold have been working to finalize the proposal that comes as Seattle residents continue to face one of the most expensive rental markets… in the world.

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Starting on Capitol Hill, tenant rights bootcamps will boost renter knowledge, neighborhood by neighborhood

Seattle Still Life:  Capitol Hill Mid-Century Modern Apartments and the Space Needle

When it comes to what CHS readers thought were the most important Capitol Hill stories of 2016, Capitol Hill Station was an easy runaway winner. But it could be argued that a split vote over Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda and the Capitol Hill Renters Initiative should qualify for a close second. 2017 will bring a new opportunity for Capitol Hill renters to keep pushing Seattle forward on a path to creating a more affordable city.

“Number one is to know and assert their rights,” organizer Devin Silvernail tells CHS about priorities for Seattle tenants in the new year and upcoming “bootcamps” to help educate renters on Capitol Hill and across the city. “I’d say a close second is advocating for things that can help them and their neighbors.” Continue reading

Sawant, community groups ask City Council not to water down Seattle move-in fee cap — UPDATE: Approved

No, District 3 rep Kshama Sawant hasn’t joined the NASCAR circuit. Those 26 logos she is sporting this week represent what she says are “the 26 community, labor, and faith organizations” calling on the rest of her City Council colleagues and Mayor Ed Murray to pass legislation capping move-in fees in Seattle, the political battle Sawant has put most of her local muscle behind in the final months of 2016.

The bill again worked its way out of committee and will be in front of the full city council Monday afternoon. UPDATE: The bill has passed — along with an amendment described below. New renters can expect the restrictions to be in place sometime early in the new year.
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Cap on move-in fees wins committee approval at City Council

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-7-23-54-amA bill that could significantly limit the upfront costs of moving into many apartments in Seattle was voted out of a City Council committee Tuesday.

Under the measure from District 3 representative Kshama Sawant, landlords could only charge tenants the first full month’s rent upon move-in and would need to allow tenants to pay the security deposit, non-refundable move-in fees, and last month’s rent in installments. According to an example provided by Sawant, a tenant moving into an $1,800 a month unit today could pay $5,600 to sign the lease. Under her proposal, the same tenant would only have to pay $2,400 to move-in as other upfront costs would be spread out over six months.

The Energy and Environment committee passed the bill on to the full council, which is expected to vote on the measure in October.

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14+ things CHS heard at the Capitol Hill #rentersummit

Listening to the mayor talk about affordability? OK. Listening to your neighbors? Priceless (Image: CHS)

Listening to the mayor talk about affordability? OK. Listening to your neighbors? Priceless (Image: CHS)

Renting is not a stepping stone to homeownership for Sean Liming. The 49-year-old has been a renter on Capitol Hill for 22 years. “I think I’ll be a renter my whole life … I like being in that situation,” he said.

But there have been problems along the way. Liming said landlords have turned him away after finding out about his felony conviction. He is also one of the many renters on Capitol Hill to see his rent double overnight. Liming has never been involved with local politics, but when he heard about the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict organizing renters last year to push back against some of those very issues, Liming said he knew he wanted to get involved.

Around 100 people, many renters on Capitol Hill, gathered for the EcoDistrict’s Renter Summit Saturday afternoon at the Miller Community Center. The event was intended to be a launching point for a new renter power movement in the city. Many came as part of the EcoDistrict’s efforts to organize building ambassadors around Capitol Hill. Continue reading

Renter Summit seeks to build tenant power on Capitol Hill

13925584_1033358373447357_8610625736069031429_oRenters make up roughly 80% of Capitol Hill residents but organizers of an upcoming summit say most are left out of crucial public policy decisions. In an effort to kickstart a renter power movement in Seattle, the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict is holding its first Capitol Hill Renter Summit September 24th.

“It’s about giving the silent majority of the neighborhood a voice,” said EcoDistrict director Joel Sisolak.

The summit will feature issue briefings followed by breakout discussion groups. Leading up to the event, EcoDistrict organizers reached out to renters on Capitol Hill to head the discussions. Mayor Ed Murray will give an opening address, and House Speaker Frank Chopp and State Senator Jamie Pederson will join other local elected officials for a live Q&A session.

Sisolak hopes the summit will inspire a pipeline of building ambassadors that will see themselves as the rightful advocates for a crucial segment of Seattle’s population. “The renters summit is more of a launch than an endpoint,” he said.

You can RSVP for the free event here. The first 50 people to sign up get a free “renter power” t-shirt. Continue reading

Sawant unveiling legislation to cap Seattle move-in fees

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant is proposing new legislation to limit move-in costs and “ease moving barriers” for Seattle renters.

A representative from Sawant’s office tells CHS the the legislation proposes changes to many small aspects of move-in fees.

“When you take them together, they have an impact,” Sawant staffer Ted Virdone said.

Virdone said that when a new tenant moves in, landlords can currently charge a variety of nonrefundable fees including for pets and cleaning. Continue reading

Mandatory Housing Affordability in Seattle? Sign us up

From the Mandatory Housing Affordability presentation planned to be part of Tuesday's committee meeting

From the Mandatory Housing Affordability presentation planned to be part of Tuesday’s committee meeting

Seattle affordable housing proponents — there seem to be more and more even if Capitol Hill rents aren’t exactly dropping — say legislation coming before the City Council’s planning committee starting Tuesday morning could be the key to unlocking the lion’s share of the 20,000 units of affordable housing Mayor Ed Murray has called for.

Mandatory Housing Affordability — part of Seattle’s “Grand Bargain” — will link the creation of affordable housing with market-rate development by requiring all new multifamily buildings to make 5-8% of their units affordable to those making 60% of the area median income — or require developers to pay into an affordable housing fund.

Here is the call to arms from Brock Howell of Seattle for Everyone:

If passed, MHA would unlock 6,100 much needed affordable homes across Seattle – that’s fully 30% of the 20,000 affordable homes that Mayor Murray plans to build in the next 10 years through HALA and the Housing Levy. MHA leverages development of new, market-rate housing to fuel affordable homes – it’s the HALA model writ large, and it’s an incredible opportunity for the city to put roofs over the heads of more people who need them.

Howell and others are hoping the turnout at City Hall Tuesday morning is strong. If you aren’t planning to be in City Council chambers, the easier way to participate is to email the committee’s chair, Rob Johnson, at rob.johnson@seattle.gov.

Tuesday’s committee discussion and public hearing will build on the resolution passed last fall as the Council members consider the legislation to update the Seattle Municipal Code. Rezoning and upzones in certain key areas like 23rd and Union are also part of the proposal: Continue reading