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Capitol Hill Renters Initiative starts 2017 with call for tenant leaders

759960-250Wednesday night on Capitol Hill includes two different tenant rights meetings. Maybe 2017 really is the year of the renter.

To start the new year, CHS told you about a new series of free bootcamps to hep educate tenants across Seattle. The first Be:Seattle Tenant Rights Bootcamp is Wednesday night from 6:30 to 8:00 PM at Summit Ave’s Top Pot.

Wednesday also brings the monthly gathering of a longer-term effort to help politically — and tactically — organize tenants on Capitol Hill. Alex Brennan of Capitol Hill Housing’s EcoDistrict effort tells CHS the nonprofit is looking forward to the Capitol Hill Renters Initiative growing more and more independent in 2017 starting with its first meeting of the new year from 6 to 7 PM at 12th Ave Arts.

“The big thing is we’re moving towards renters taking on more leadership and more responsibility from Capitol Hill Housing staff,” Brennan said.

CHS wrote about the growth of the initiative last summer as organizers looked to enable the power of “Capitol Hill’s silent majority” of tenants. While more than half of Seattle’s property is zoned for single family homes and only 8% of Seattle is zoned for multi-family buildings, renters make up 80% of the population within the EcoDistrict boundaries. “We felt like we really needed to be doing a better job of engaging renters,”Capitol Hill EcoDistrict director Joel Sisolak told us last year. In September, the group organized a renters summit and developed goals including a call for a Seattle renters’ commission.

The monthly Capitol Hill Renters Initiative meetings are where the boots start to hit the ground on achieving these goals. Brennan says, unsurprisingly, the Capitol Hill group has a broad array of work groups with eight areas of focus including tactical efforts like organizing a group to attend Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day in Olympia in February. Other workgroups have broader mandates like examining and responding to the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability process.

The typical meeting, Brennan said, includes updates from the workgroups followed by a second half of the planned hour-long session dedicated to a specific issue or initiative.

As the group grows from beneath Capitol Hill Housing’s wing, the next burning issue for the initiative will be formalizing its leadership. By January 25th, officer candidates will need to throw their name in the hat before a planned election in February.

It’s not too late for you to get involved and, like any good community group, those willing to lead and take on an officer role might not emerge until midnight on the 25th. Even if you can’t make the January meeting, you can join the group on Facebook and see what you can do to help.

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