Crowd Fills City Hall To Support Rent Control In Pricey Seattle | KUOW News and Information

Crowd Fills City Hall To Support Rent Control In Pricey Seattle

Apr 24, 2015

Hundreds of people crowded into Seattle City Hall Thursday night to air their concerns about the city's rising cost of housing.


The town hall on affordable housing was led by City Council members Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant.

The standing-room-only event featured activists, angry renters and denunciations of "big developers."

If any big developers attended, they didn't make their presence known.

Barbara Brownstein is a 67-year-old social worker. She said the rent on her apartment is going to double on July 1.

Brownstein: "I've never made the big bucks. That's fine. That's my choice. But I always thought I would be able to continue to live modestly and safely in my community where I worked. But that's all up for grabs now."

Kshama Sawant and many others spoke of the need for rent control.

Sawant: "We need rent control, but that alone will not be enough to solve the housing crisis in Seattle."

Sawant said landlords should only get to raise their rents by small amounts to keep up with inflation and maintenance expenses.

She also called for a tenants' bill of rights and said she and Licata were working on other measures to address the city's housing prices.

Several speakers referred to cities like New York and San Francisco that have at least partial rent control.

Michael Ramos is with the Church Council of Greater Seattle.

Ramos: "If it's good enough for New York City, it's good enough for Seattle."

Even if that's true, it might not be good enough for Olympia.  

Rent control is illegal in Washington state: It would take an act of the state Legislature to change that.

With no socialists holding office at the state level, and the state senate controlled by Republicans, rent control is likely to get a cooler reception in Olympia than it did in Seattle City Hall Thursday night.