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Tenants Union of Washington State 

Description

The Tenants Union is based on the principle that tenants, and especially low-income tenants, can and should lead our organizing efforts to address unjust housing practices and conditions. Accordingly the TU membership is involved in our organization as tenant rights counselors, campaign leaders, and board directors. The TU constituency includes a diversity of low-income renters, and is especially comprised of people of color, immigrants, the elderly, families, and people with disabilities as well as partners in the broader community. Through tenant education, community organization, leadership development, and tenant empowerment, the TU supports the efforts of low income tenants throughout the community as they work to address unfair housing policies and practices.

Mission Statement
The mission of the Tenants Union (TU) is to create housing justice through empowerment-based education, outreach, leadership development, organizing, and advocacy. Founded in 1977, the TU carries on a proud legacy of work to create concrete improvements in tenants’ living conditions and challenge and transform unjust housing policies and practices. As a membership organization, the TU’s work is grounded in the strong conviction that tenants must be the leaders of efforts to transform our housing conditions and communities. The TU embraces the values of equality, hope, tenant leadership, respect, direct action, civic courage, racial and economic justice, and self-determination.
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Tenants Union of Washington State
5425 Rainier Ave S Ste B 
Seattle 
WA
98118-2455 
(206) 722-6848 

Jonathan Grant 
Executive Director 

Programs

Tenants Union of Washington State Programs

Tenant Education Services  
The Tenants Union Education Program empowers tenants with the knowledge and skills needed to keep themselves and their families safely housed. Tenants in Washington have no governmental agency to rely on to enforce their rights. Landlord-tenant laws in Washington State are considered “self help” — it is up to individual tenants to get their rights enforced. The TU provides empowerment-based education and assistance to help tenants learn their rights and take action to resolve housing problems. 

The Tenants Rights Hotline is now only one part of a program that also includes individualized tenant counseling, a comprehensive website, tenant education workshops, and services in multiple languages to serve a diverse community. Trained Tenant Counselors provide information on their rights and help tenants take the action necessary to resolve their housing crisis safely. The TU is a vital resource for tenants who are facing housing problems due to unjust housing practices or conditions.  

Housing Access Project 
The mission of the Tenants Union’s Housing Access Project is to increase access and undo institutional barriers to decent, affordable housing for communities criminalized, marginalized, and segregated by commercial and judicial systems. HAP uses organizing, outreach, and political education to develop strong tenant leadership to end housing discrimination against communities disproportionately impacted by race and class bias in the tenant screening, court, and criminal justice systems.  

Section 8 Tenants Organizing Project (STOP) 
Founded in 1996 as a program of the Tenants Union of Washington, STOP is a group of tenants and supporters working to preserve and improve Section 8 housing and give tenants a voice in decisions that affect their housing stability. STOP uses outreach, education and organizing to develop Section 8 tenant leaders to preserve long term affordability for multifamily buildings, affect change in Section 8 policy, and raise community awareness about the Section 8 program. 

Recent Successes and Current Challenges

Recent TU Victories:  

  • Passage of tenant screening protections for survivors of domestic violence. 
  • Tenants building power towards more affordable housing in Seattle. 
  • Landmark victory of over 20 years of organizing for a Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) in Seattle to ensure safe, healthy housing for all. See a video online at http://www.tenantsunion.org/.
  • New expansions of source of income discrimination for Section 8 voucher holders and other low income tenants in East King County. 
  • Expansion into tenant organizing in Spokane, WA. 
  • Tenant leaders from the Section 8 Tenants Organizing Project (STOP) who were facing displacement from their low income housing organized to win long-term affordable housing and set national precedent in national housing policy. 
  • The TU also recently published a comprehensive website, http://www.tenantsunion.org/ that is jam packed with information and resources for Washington State renters seeking information to resolve housing problems. 

 
Thank you for your interest in supporting the Tenants Union of Washington. Since 1977 the Tenants Union has been a grassroots organization that is led and supported by those who are committed to housing justice. Through your membership and donations, the Tenants Union works to ensure that thousands of low-income tenants have the information, advocacy and support that they need to address unfair housing practices and policies throughout the community. Please take a moment to make a tax-deductible donation to the the Tenants Union. Your voice is the voice of housing justice. And your resolve and commitment are at the heart of the Tenants Union.

Evaluation


The Tenants Union (TU) plays an integral role in homelessness prevention by providing the community with a multifaceted Tenant Education Program that includes a website with tenant’s rights information, a statewide tenant’s rights hotline, community workshops, and neighborhood clinics at locations in north, west and southeast Seattle.

Proven Success
The Tenants Union assists over 2,000 Washington state tenants annually with solutions to unjust housing conditions and situations. TU was instrumental in the Section 8 Tenants Organizing Project campaign to reform the local housing authority’s grievance hearing process. TU also helped to pass the Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance which enables the city to take action against substandard housing. TU’s Justice in South Seattle Project has helped tenants to win improvements of substandard housing conditions.

Best Practices
Through the Tenant Empowerment Network, TU conducts research in student, faith, labor unions and community networks to identify individuals to be trained on specific areas of landlord-tenant law. Through door-to-door outreach, they distribute tenant rights information. This model reaches a broader spectrum of the community and educates them on preventing housing loss and the resources available to low-income tenants.

Collaboration
Partnering with organizations such as Columbia Legal Services, Solid Ground, and the Housing Justice Project, TU has been able to effectively split up responsibilities and delegate as needed to secure positive systemic change for tenants. This strategy culminated in the passage of Seattle’s Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance. By pooling resources with noted agencies, they have more capacity for counseling services and can assist tenants more effectively by connecting them to legal aid programs.

Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

DateAmountPurpose
3/10/2012 $10,000.00support general operating expenses.
3/10/2010 $10,000.00support general operating expenses.
3/10/2008 $15,000.00support general operating expenses.

Financials

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