'We have become a force:' People evicted from Tiki Apartments fight for tenants' rights

"We have become a force," said Donna Seay, who was one of the tenants evicted from the Tiki Apartments. "It's awesome. To be truthful before all this happened I really lost faith in society." (Photo: KOMO News)

TACOMA, Wash. - The people evicted from Tacoma's Tiki Apartments are flexing their new-found political muscle at city hall.

They are demanding better treatment for all renters. What started as a small group of angry renters has turned into a powerful movement.

They have become a constant presence here at the Tacoma City Council meetings. It is all because of what happened to them two months ago.

The eviction notices came as a shock. "You have 20 days to get out." People living in 60 apartments were fearing they would be out on the street.

"Oh I'm going to get emotional talking about it," said Donna Seay. "It was really tough."

But after the mayor and city leaders heard their stories on KOMO the movement started to gain momentum. The council turned the 20-day notice into 90.

Now the newly-formed Tiki Tenants Organizing Committee is demanding the council form a city-wide renters' commission to really go after the issue of fairer treatment for those who rent.

"We have become a force," said Seay. "It's awesome. To be truthful before all this happened I really lost faith in society."

The Tiki tenants want to be a part of the commission. They said it would promote robust education on tenants' rights, ensure emergency response for tenants being displaced and monitor an affordable housing trust fund.

Teri Totten said his landlord at a different Tacoma apartment gave him 20-days notice for no reason, and now he and his family are living in a van.

"We're just trying to do everything in our power to get a roof over our children's head," he said.

This group is pushing to make landlords have a real reason to push people out similar to Seattle's 'just cause' provision.

Christina would like to see the Tiki tenants movement spread to the rest of Pierce county and statewide.

She has rented a Spanaway home for 11 years. Her landlord is giving her 20-days notice to move out so the house can be sold. She doesn't know what to tell her teenage son and daughter.

"I try to not tell them that I can't find anything. But they see the stress and it's hard," she said. She would like the same 90 days that Tacoma city renters now get.

The Tiki tenants and their supporters went before the council Tuesday night. They realize no decision will be made until the issue is thoroughly studied.

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