Housing as a human right. National rent control. A guaranteed home for all.


Housing as a Human Right

As a Tacoma tenant whose rent has risen by 16% in recent years, I know that our housing system is broken.  

Tenants live at the whim of landlords and developers, whose aim is to squeeze as much profit from them as the market can bear. Month after month, the exodus of the poor continues as Seattle developers buy buildings, evict the tenants, and raise rents. Many of these tenants are poor, disabled, and in recovery and have nowhere else to go. Homeless or pushed far out of reach of public transit, they have a harder time getting to work. For many, a lack of stable housing threatens their sobriety.  

At the same time, our politicians tout their “affordable” housing initiatives while giving tax breaks to developers to build unaffordable housing. Ask anyone making minimum wage: “Can you afford the ‘affordable’ housing?” The answer will be “no.”  

What’s the point of “affordable” housing you can’t afford?  

In our district’s majority-minority neighborhoods, such as the Hilltop in Tacoma, people of color and the poor are being driven out by gentrification. Task forces have been convened and politicians have wrung their hands, but precious little has been done to stem the tide of long-time Hilltop residents leaving their homes. We must act decisively to protect our neighborhoods and their rich cultural heritage.  

Also as a result of rising rents, homelessness is at crisis levels. In Aberdeen (population: 16,000), 1,000 people are homeless and 100 are sleeping in an encampment by the river.  

This crisis can’t continue. I am an activist with the Tacoma Tenants Organizing Committee, which has achieved substantial victories for tenants. In Congress, I will continue to fight for:  

  • Universal rent control nationwide, so landlords and developers can’t raise rents at unreasonable, life-threatening rates.
  • Just cause for eviction, so tenants’ stability — and sometimes our very lives — can’t be threatened by the whims of a landlord. 
  • National grace period of 14 days for payment of rent, so being as little as $100 short on rent doesn’t jump start someone into homelessness. It’s much easier to keep someone out of homelessness than to get them out of it.
  • Declaration of housing as a human right.
  • Massive investment in public housing and anti-gentrification community land trusts, so housing always stays affordable and community-controlled.
  • An end to often-racist and always-exclusionary single-family zoning by providing federal funding incentives to towns, cities, and counties that enact pro-density zoning.
  • Severe financial penalties for municipalities that criminalize the existence of homeless people, e.g., laws against loitering, sleeping in cars and parks when the shelters are full, and feeding the homeless. We must end the war on the poor.

Unlike my opponent, I reject money from real estate developers and the banks who fund them. Always. Only a candidate uncorrupted by real estate money can fight for tenants and the homeless.