Militant Journalism

Seattle rally calls to cancel rents

“The eviction moratorium didn’t stop landlords from finding a didn’t stop debt from piling up,” exclaimed Julissa Sanchez of the Tenants Union of Washington.

Sanchez was one of many speakers at the the Cancel the Rent Community Rally in Seattle, at Othello Playground, June 5. She went on to explain how immigrants were excluded from rent relief programs that required a Social Security Number to apply. “We deserve dignified, safe housing without roaches.”

The Cancel the Rent Coalition brought together a broad range of King County organizations including the Poor Peoples Campaign, Transit Riders Union, Tenants Union of Washington, NIckelsville, SHARE/Wheel, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Seattle Democratic Socialists of America, Radical Women and Seattle Revolutionary Socialists. The coalition is also calling for an extension of the eviction moratorium, mortgage and debt relief, taxes on the rich, housing for all and rent control.

Voices from the rally

Shukri Olow is running for King County Council in District 5. A self-described “proud refugee” from Somalia, she spent six years in a refugee camp before moving to the Seattle area where she grew up living in Section 8 housing in Kent, Washington. She described the housing priorities identified by her community for her campaign, but emphasized, “Our salvation is not in the hands of a candidate. Community is our salvation.” Her lived experience growing up in Section 8 means that for her, this is not simply a policy issue but a matter of survival for people.

Nikkita Oliver, a lawyer, educator, artist and activist, is running for Seattle City Council position 9. “Bankruptcy law protects the rich,” Oliver explained. Referring to the 2008 bailout of the rich, they asked, “Where is the poor people’s bailout?” Answering that question, Oliver stated, “We are the poor people’s bailout.”

Dee Powers has lived in a mobile home on the streets of Seattle for the past six years and stated, “Eviction leads to homelessness.” Powers spoke forcefully on the need for people to unite against the so-called “Compassion Seattle” charter initiative which is a stealth attempt to alter the city’s charter to require 2,000 beds for the homeless without providing any additional funding, while mandating sweeps of homeless camps from public parks.

Jas Nelson of Party for Socialism and Liberation proclaimed: “Gentrification creeps into our most vulnerable communities, displacing our Black and Indigenous neighbors and sterilizing the city into ugly, structurally unsound and extremely overpriced apartments that sit empty while  the mayor, SPD and the City of Seattle Parks Department push crowds of homeless people around the city in a never-ending reign of terror, destroying what little possessions they have and creating unstable environments.”

The rally was MCed by the Rev. Bianca Lovelace-Davis of the Washington Poor Peoples Campaign and Anitra Freeman of SHARE/Wheel. Lovelace-Davis assured the crowd that this was not the end but the beginning of action to prevent the “tsunami of evictions” that will emerge if the eviction moratorium abruptly ends on June 30.

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