Organizers turn in signatures for Stable Homes Federal Way Initiative to get good cause eviction protections on the ballot

The Stable Home Federal Way campaign is submitting petition signatures Thursday to the Federal Way City Clerk for the November election. During the current housing crisis, low-income tenants are particularly vulnerable to bad faith evictions, so Federal Way renters organized with Washington CAN to launch the Stable Homes Federal Way initiative to prevent discriminatory and retaliatory evictions.

The campaign needs 7,049 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. Once it qualifies for the ballot, it will head to Federal Way City Council to be passed as an ordinance or be sent to the November ballot for voters to decide. Several organizations have endorsed this initiative, including the Federal Way Education Association and the Martin Luther King County Labor Council. Throughout the signature gathering effort, the campaign registered over 700 voters. 

“I see no cause evictions nearly every day that lead to homelessness in Federal Way. When the community passes this policy into law, it will alleviate homelessness in our region. I hope our state follows suit,” said Edmund Witter, managing attorney for the King County Housing Justice Project.

Background:

Once passed, this initiative will require landlords to have ‘good cause’ before evicting a tenant or refusing to renew a lease. The initiative will also allow renters to live with their immediate family. Further, the initiative will prohibit discriminatory evictions based upon renter’s status as a member of the military, first responder, senior, family member, health care provider, or educator.

Ginny Ferguson, a resident of Federal Way for about 30 years, received a 20-day no-cause termination notice after raising concerns with her landlord about water leaking into her carpet and mold. “My lease should have been renewed,” Ferguson said. “I shouldn’t have had to go through, and my daughter should not have had to go through, what we went through. No child should have to go through being homeless.”

Both landlords and homeowners support this measure. “This initiative is not a threat to landlords who practice fair and equitable property management. As a landlord, I provide an essential need - a home for my renters. They deserve basic protections to ensure they aren't arbitrarily evicted from their home,” said Tatomya Wimbish, a small landlord who rents out one property in Federal Way. 

Federal Way City Councilmembers Jesse Johnson (D) and Martin Moore (R) both endorse the Stable Homes initiative. Moore said, “I ran for office to  help and advocate for working families - so I fully support this initiative. As an elected official, it is my paramount duty to insure that all have a quality of life and with this initiative, we will keep families housed while acknowledging how much we value our veterans, first responders, educators, health care providers, and seniors by protecting them from discriminatory evictions.”

“I am strongly in favor of this transformational initiative,” Johnson said. “These protections are a game changer to protect tenants against any unethical landlord, particularly our historically disenfranchised and marginalized communities who do not have the socio-economic or political power to advocate for themselves.  This initiative provides a fair and equitable safety net for the many renters in our community including our young families, seniors, veterans and other vulnerable populations.”

Erin Fenner