Seattle Could Become The First U.S. City To Give Renters A Voice In Local Government

A proposed commission would give a representative group of Seattle renters the chance to advocate for increased protections and affordability in a city where the cost of living continues to skyrocket.

Between June 2015 and June 2016, rents in Seattle ballooned 9.7%—four times faster than the national average. With its influx of tech workers, Seattle has climbed the unaffordability ladder—which is constantly yanked higher by San Francisco—and renters, which make up around half of all Seattle residents, are suffering. In response, a group of Seattle City Councilmembers has introduced a proposal to establish a Renters Commission, which would give non-homeowners a voice in local government and a way to collectively influence policy.

If the proposal passes—which seems likely, after it was unanimously approved in a City Council vote on March 15—Seattle will become the first city in the U.S. to have such a commission.

"As rents continue to rise, it’s increasingly urgent that renters are given a forum to engage city government with a strong and organized voice," said Tim Burgess, one of the councilmembers behind the proposal, in a press release. "Half of households in Seattle are renters, with renters making up more than 80 percent of residents in certain neighborhoods, and that number is only climbing."...more