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Federal Way renters need protection during pandemic | Letters

Federal Way renters need protection during pandemic

Federal Way City Council can prevent an eviction crisis, but instead refuse to introduce renter protections

For years, renters have been sounding the alarm at the Federal Way City Council, bringing attention to the conditions they’re living in without basic renter protections: flooded rooms, electrical damage so dire it’s a fire hazard, exposed sewage soaking renters’ units, exorbitant move-out fees, and unjust evictions.

The city council’s response? Nothing. Instead, by passively refusing to pass renter protections, they have long permitted inhumane practices to continue. Now, as we live through a devastating pandemic, and in turn, a devastating economic crisis, is the council finally stepping up to pass protections to prevent a massive eviction crisis?

Nope.

This year they haven’t passed a single policy to protect renters, who make up almost half the households in the city.

As a renter in our city, I’m just trying to build a home and enjoy my community. I have my plants on my back porch, my neighbors who I chat with every day, and my caretaker stops by regularly to help me with shopping and other support I need. I’m lucky to have a stable income, but many renters have not been blessed with luck.

Hard-working people across our city have been laid off, and unemployment benefits are drying up. Many renters don’t even qualify for expanded unemployment, and through no fault of their own, are unable to come up with rent. About one third of renters across the country were unable to pay their July rent. Federal Way is one of the state’s more multicultural communities: about half of the city’s residents are people of color. And, as renters are more likely to be Black or brown, ignoring us and the problems we’re facing as renters, plays into systemic discrimination.

My neighbors who are desperately trying to come up with money to pay their basic necessities — food and housing — are currently facing harassment from their landlords, and when the eviction moratorium expires Aug. 1, they’re facing being forced into homelessness.

Federal Way City Council could prevent that. In fact, by making rent non-possessory during the COVID-19 crisis, they could even bring security to our community that could help us survive the pandemic and thrive. Making rent non-possessory would mean renters would still owe rent, but would not be able to be made homeless because they fell behind during the pandemic. This means landlords can still seek rent, but we could avoid the catastrophe of pushing families out of their homes during a pandemic.

Our kids, elders and everyone in our community wouldn’t have to worry about being pushed out onto the street, but refocus on getting through this time and healing our community together.

In 2019, renters organized, and a coalition formed by Washington CAN, with organizations like IAFF Local 2024 South King County Professional Firefighters, the Federal Way Education Association, local businesses, and renters — ran an initiative, Stable Homes Federal Way. The initiative accomplished what the council has repeatedly failed to do: prevent discriminatory and retaliatory evictions. It passed resoundingly. It passed with bipartisan support, showing that this is something Federal Way constituents vote in favor of. Renters did the work to protect our city.

Now we need the council to do its job, or we’ll just need to elect a council that will.

Nico Purcell, Federal Way

Renaming TJHS

I think the name of Thomas Jefferson High School should be County High School and change the mascot to a red and gold bird so they don’t have to change the colors. They should remain Raiders and keep the chant the same, instead of saying “TJ,” say “County.” For example: “Raiders (County) Raiders (County)!” Everyone from TJ knows the chant I’m talking about.

Christina Lindsey, Edgewood

Ode to Thomas Jefferson

Give me a break. This cancel culture has reached a point of absurdity. Thomas Jefferson was a framer of the U.S. Constitution and was a slave owner. There are too many founding fathers to eliminate if we judge them based on, albeit flawed, standards of the time. How about we rename the state?!?

Here is a better idea. Include a unit on the History of our Founding Fathers (including Jefferson) as part of the default curriculum for any graduating student. Teach students about the flawed standard. Don’t erase it.

Let the “former student” have their moment of civic participation and move on.

Jan Replogle, Arlington


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