Doug Trumm—a renter and resident of Wallingford—ran for an open seat on the North Seattle neighborhood's community council last week. Writing at The Urbanist yesterday, Trumm describes how, in his view, the council holds "prejudices against renters."
First, someone posted on Facebook about his urbanist background and warned that he was running. Then, during the meeting, Trumm says someone pointedly questioned whether he lived in the neighborhood. The questioner continued, "Why did you move to a city that’s so expensive and then ask the taxpayers to help you?" Trumm had talked about his support for the mayor's housing agenda, known as HALA:
I asked how the taxpayers were subsidizing me and she said that’s what HALA does and reiterated, “why do you live here?” It felt like she was saying that I should go live somewhere else. I mumbled something about I live where I want to live and Seattle is a great place and I wasn’t receiving a public subsidy. I also noted that I was interested in HALA for the novel idea of helping folks less fortunate than myself. Glen gave his speech about owning a home and having a longer history in the neighborhood.
Glen won; Trumm lost. That makes for an all-homeowner Wallingford Community Council, even though more than half of the city's residents are renters. It's clear from its website that the council is deeply skeptical of, if not outright opposed to, HALA. I've asked the council for comment and will update when I hear back.
Zachary Pullin, president of the Capitol Hill Community Council, said today that he's "disappointed" in his colleagues in Wallingford. Six of seven members of his council are renters, he said. And he's written before about how important it is for renters to be represented in housing policies:
We must empower renters, especially because we make up roughly 53% of Seattle’s population (and more than 80% of our neighborhood’s population). At speaking engagements, forums, town halls, and debates, I routinely hear from well-meaning people (people who care deeply about their city and their neighborhoods) but who can’t divorce themselves from the unfounded fears that renters are “transients,” renters “don’t care about the neighborhood,” or renters are ensuring our “lovely community is losing the appeal, charm, and attraction for steady income, responsible, professional homeowners.”
Our council is made up of women, queer people, young people, people of color, new people to the city, homeowners; and, most importantly, renters.