Thursday, January 30, 2014

Lockhaven mentioned in Washington State Senate hearing

We heart Sen. Kohl-Welles!

The Lockhaven fight is a small part of a larger struggle for housing justice. Stina Janssen of the Tenants Union of Washington shares this info about a battle in this struggle going on right now, and how Lockhaven is already part of it:
At a hearing last Thursday at the State Senate, Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles of our 36th District testified to the critical need for SB 6292, citing the experiences of Lockhaven tenants. 
The bill, of which she is the primary sponsor, would increase the eligibility cap for who can qualify for relocation assistance from people making 50% of the area median income to people earning 80% of the Area Median Income.The bill would also increase the state's notice period for rent increases from 30 days to 90 days.
Many a Lockhaven resident found themselves to be just over the income eligibility for relocation assistance, but still greatly harmed by the high costs of unanticipated moving.
Senator Kohl-Welles talked about the Lockhaven tenants in her address to the committee, mentioning the illegal eviction notices and the relief that expanded relocation assistance could provide to renters like those at Lockhaven. 
You can watch a video of the hearing here.
Please thank Sen. Kohl-Welles by phone (206-281-6854) or email, and get in touch with your other legislators to urge them to support SB 6292. Here's a guide from the Tenants Union of Washington's website about speaking up for legislation on tenant rights.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Coalition of anonymous developers sue the city

The Stranger's Anna Minard has an excellent story about a coalition of developers who have filed a suit against the city over a 2006 agreement to make some units of housing moderately affordable in exchange for easing height restrictions downtown. This modest, commonsense agreement is called "extortion" by the coalition. Translation: "We, the rich, must be allowed to get richer at any cost, including the well being of the city and its inhabitants. Residents without the means to support our growing richer are not welcome here." This is a classic case of developers trying to dictate what kind of city we are. City Council member (and friend to the Lockhaven Tenants Union) Mike O'Brien has spoken out against this suit, calling it "maddening."

These developers have remained anonymous, so we don't know if Lockhaven owner John Goodman is a party to it. We will ask Goodman Real Estate for this information and let you know if we find out anything. In the meantime, drop Mike O'Brien a note to thank him for his great work on behalf of affordable housing.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

LTU meets with Lockhaven owners John Goodman and George Petrie

The Lockhaven Tenant’s Union (LTU) scored a victory in our efforts to keep Lockhaven affordable  Monday evening when Lockhaven’s new chief owner, John Goodman, Chairman, Goodman Real Estate (GRE) and GRE President and CEO, George Petrie, both Seattle residents, sat down at the table with our negotiations team of current and former Lockhaven tenants.

Having the meeting in itself was an accomplishment as the LTU had been working hard for months to get the owners to the table to discuss ways to ameliorate the many hardships we have encountered since Goodman Real Estate executives purchased the building in August 2013. Goodman himself echoed the uniqueness of the gathering, “we don’t usually do this sort of thing,” he said.

Many factors contributed to the planning and realization of the informative face-to-face dialogue, including an information campaign, reaching out to all tenants, including those who have already departed, help from the Tenant’s Union of Washington State, facilitation by the office of Seattle City Council member Nick Licata, and the interest of GRE Lockhaven partners in reaching out to the community.

Viewpoints of both owners and the LTU were discussed openly, with the former evoking a willingness to be flexible and to consider extending some monetary assistance to tenants facing particular difficulty in relocation, more transparency regarding renovations to the complex and its effect on remaining residents, and further dialogue on the multi-faceted topic of “affordability”.

No decisions were made on either side but good progress was made and we are hopeful we can continue to move in a positive  direction through continued work with management and ownership.  GRE Lockhaven indicated they would consider a more detailed proposal based on the understandings put forth at the meeting and to meet again once it is time to make decisions and to commit to solutions. For those who have been wondering what is going on at Lockhaven, please be informed: your union is at work for you and invites your participation in the process of constructive change!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

90 day notices from GRE Lockhaven

Earlier this week GRE Lockhaven distributed a "90-Day Notice of Development Activity ...". This was expected and is consistent with the relocation timeline presented by GRE Lockhaven on November 22, 2013. Simply put, this notice means that the City of Seattle has approved GRE Lockhaven's application for a license to relocate tenants as part of its renovation plan. After the end of the 90-day period, on March 28, 2014, GRE Lockhaven could conceivably issue 20-day Termination of Tenancy Notices to all Lockhaven tenants.

However, at this time, the Lockhaven Tenants Union (LTU) has no reason to believe that GRE Lockhaven will depart significantly from their earlier relocation schedule calling for phased evictions of three or fewer buildings per month over the course of ten months. The LTU is hopeful that our negotiations with the two principal shareholders of GRE Lockhaven, which begin next week, will result in changes that will preserve all or part of Lockhaven as affordable housing and lessen the impact of GRE Lockhaven's plans on current tenants. The LTU needs your input and support now more than ever to achieve a good outcome for all Lockahaven tenants. If you haven't already completed the Lockhaven tenants survey then please do so.