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Donate Now Through Network for Good Washington State tenants have won important legal protections, but these rights don't go far enough. Members help build the movement to protect and expand tenants rights and make the promise of safe, healthy, affordable housing a reality.

About Us

TU Staff & Board

The TU has talented and dedicated staff members and board who work hard to support tenant leadership and grow the movement for housing justice in Washington State.

Meet the staff and board of the Tenants Union.

TU Staff

Amber Abrahamson, Tenant Education Counselor and Community Organizer: A member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, Amber was born in Spokane, WA and raised on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Amber graduated high school in Wellpinit, WA and then went on to further her education in Business Management at the Spokane Falls Community College. Currently, raising her three children as a single mother in Spokane, WA. Amber has previously worked with the Spokane Housing Authority for over four years, where she worked as an assistant manager, providing housing to section 8 low income families. It is there where she found her passion for advocating tenant rights and providing safe, stable, and affordable housing. Amber has currently joined the Tenants Union as an americorp Vista member to fight for housing justice, community sustainability, tenant advocacy and community preservation! She is also a section 8 voucher holder as well. In her spare time she likes to spend it with her children, friends and family doing whatever sounds fun and just going with the flow!

Terri Anderson, Interim Executive Director & Spokane STOP Community Organizer: A tireless advocate for issues affecting the underrepresented communities in Spokane, Terri organized affected members of the Spokane community for the unanimous passage of a city ordinance to mandate independent investigations of police misconduct. Terri has organized to address the affects of years of uranium mining on the Spokane Indian Reservation, and has worked for racial equity in higher education. Terri’s life as a first generation American, fourth generation Washingtonian, a person of color living in Spokane, a tenant, and as an advocate as well as her passion and commitment to social, economic and environmental justice drives her work to make Spokane a better place for everyone to live and make a difference.

Helena Benedict, Tenant Education Coordinator: Helena is excited to join the Tenants Union organizing to preserve affordable housing stock in Seattle and surrounding areas. She grew up splitting time between Seattle and Alaska; graduated with a degree in Biology from the New College of Florida in 2013; and promptly returned to the pacific northwest. She’s spent the last year and a half learning and growing in Seattle, including a stint doing intake and outreach at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. Helena dreams of cities that take care of their own and value community over developers’ profits, and sees the right to housing as a vital manifestation of struggles for racial, economic, and environmental justice and resistance. In her free time, Helena prioritizes tasty snacks, good friends, long walks, and checking out too many books from the library.

Dinah Braccio, Tenant Education Coordinator: Dinah grew up in the sleepy town* of Carmel Valley, California. She attended college at the University of California, San Diego earning a degree in Environmental Systems. After journeying up the west coast to settle in Seattle she developed her intersectional understanding of poverty and marginalization through her involvement with Gender Justice League. Several months after receiving counseling at the TU’s drop in Walk In Clinic she is excited to join the Tenants Union and help preserve the regions affordable housing, a goal that becomes more pressing with each passing month. In her spare time Dinah enjoys being pedantic, helping her partner in the garden, and spending time with friends. Oh, and eating, she really likes eating. *Despite having a post office and 4,400 residents Carmel Valley remains unincorporated Monterey County land.

Violet Lavatai, Interim Executive Director & Membership & Development Coordinator: Violet grew up in the SE Seattle community for more than 30 years, and today she to calls it her home and her community. In 2010, she volunteered and got involved in a grass-root organization that advocated for better jobs, homes, food, and transportation, for low-income and people of color. She thinks that if everyone got involved in their own community what different world it would be. She went back to school to further her education in Accounting and Administration. In 2011 she was fortunate to go on a trip to Washington D.C “Take back the Capitol” where the Government was cutting unemployment for the many Americans who had lost their jobs during the recession. Standing together with other fellow Americans there was a sense of unity and it changed Violet — she looked at our world a little more differently from that day on. She’s excited to have joined the Tenants Union in advocating for fair housing for all, and she believes that housing should be people before profits. Violet also sings and plays the guitar.

Julissa Sanchez, Community Organizer & Tenant Counselor:

Amy Tower, Tenant Education Counselor and Community Organizer: Amy graduated from Seattle University in 2013 with a degree in Philosophy, and is still searching for ways to contribute to a socially just revolution. She volunteered with Kshama Sawant’s campaign for City Council and worked as a legal assistant in the King County Prosecutor’s Office before jumping headfirst into the nonprofit industrial complex. She dreams of a world where everyone’s right to housing is recognized and celebrated, and loves the TU team and mission with all of her heart. While taking a break from questioning the meaning of life, Amy can be found wearing hats, trying to learn Arabic, and cooking with her family.

TU Board

Cyril Hylton: Cyril has been a tenant leader for many years and has helped the tenants resolve issues that go on under SHAG buildings. He became President of his tenants association because he wanted to make a difference and really help tenants. He was one the tenants that fought back against Senior Housing Assistant Group (SHAG) when they tried to evict an elderly woman, and to bring light to poor living conditions for the elderly. Tenants Union has worked closely with Cyril and we are encouraged by his leadership and tenacity to advocate for his neighbors and his commitment to all the residents in his building and in other SHAG, Senior Low-Income buildings. We are so excited to welcome him and what he will bring to help more tenants and to shape the Tenants Union Board of Directors.

Tammy Nguyen: Tammy is a Vietnamese-American community activist who joined Got Green as one of its first members in 2008. Since then she has been working to put women of color, low income and immigrant women’s voices front and center in the green economy, founding the Women in the Green Economy Project in 2010. Tammy is a young, single parent of three children (Julie, Tuyet-Nhi and Alan) from an immigrant family living in New Holly, where she is a neighborhood leader. She is also involved in her kids’ education. Tammy has done so much in her advocacy life that she has built up a community who supports her work and she is well known in the community because of her work. She is the face of “Got Green”. Tenants Union is fortunate to welcome Tammy and her leadership to the Board of Directors.

Jon Mannella: Jon is originally from New Jersey and has lived in the Seattle area since 2007. He’s a part of the TU because he believes that everyone should be able to stay in their home. No family, no person should ever have to live in fear of being thrown out into the street with no place to live. Together, we have the resources to make sure that all of us have a decent place to live - regardless of the work we do, how much money we have, where we’re from, what we look like, what language we speak, or who we are. We live in a society with such abundance. There is simply no excuse for housing injustice. The work to build this better world for tenants continues here, with us tenants sticking up for each other and helping each other stay in their homes. Tenants are strong and powerful when we’re united. Jon’s vision for the TU is that it becomes a mighty force for tenant power in Washington State. He joined the TU in early 2019 after meeting Violet and Tammy for lunch. He’s been helping and supporting the TU ever since and now serves as Board Treasurer. Jon is a former CPA who does the accounting for a small, locally owned restaurant chain. He’s also a graduate student at the University of Washington, where he studies communication for social change. He lives in Seattle with his spouse and their beloved cat.

Additional Board Members

In Memorium — Bette Reed, President: Bette was the President of the Tenants Union board and was an active part of the Tenants Union for over 7 years. Her leadership was instrumental as a part of a core group of tenants organizing to bring accountability to Seattle Housing Authority and reform the Section 8 grievance hearing process. A resident of the Seattle Senior Housing Program building Blakely Manor, Bette was extremely active in her building. She was also a wonderful cook, an avid knitter, and a longtime activist with Puget Sound Advocates for Retired Action. She had a quick wit, sharp political analysis, and an incredibly loving personality. Bette carried the torch for the Tenants Union through years of advocacy on the Rental Housing Inspection Program, which passed Seattle City Council. We would like to dedicate this tremendous victory in her honor, and in gratitude for her hard work, dedication, and deep passion for social justice. She was fierce advocate and a good, good friend.

TU History permalink

TU Victory! Started by volunteers in 1977, the Tenants Union has a long history of victories for housing justice through education, organizing and advocacy. These victories were led and supported by our membership. For more information on how to become a member, see Tenants Union Membership.

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TU Staff & Board permalink

The TU has talented and dedicated staff members and board who work hard to support tenant leadership and grow the movement for housing justice in Washington State.

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Address & Directions permalink

Tenants Union of Washington State – Seattle
5425 Rainier Avenue S Ste B
Seattle, WA 98118-2455

Tenants Union of Washington State – Spokane
25 W. Main Ave Ste 310
Spokane, WA 99201

The Tenants Union is open limited hours. See Tenants Rights Counseling for a listing of our walk-in hours and services.

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TU Funders permalink

Current Funders
  • Tenants Union Members: The work of the TU has been sustained for over 34 years through the support of its membership. Members are the heart of the TU’s work for housing justice, and are the strongest base of support we have. For more information or to become a member of the Tenants Union, see Tenants Union Membership.
  • A Place to Live: A Place to Live is the support organization for the Benson East Tenant Association (BETA). BETA is the Northwest’s first tenant-owned property that was organized in 2000 by the Tenants Union. BETA is committed to fighting for housing justice and tenant autonomy by advancing tenant ownership campaigns and tenant empowerment. See Tenant Ownership for more information.

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Principles of Unity permalink

  1. We believe all tenants have the right to affordable decent housing, free from excessive and frequent rent increases.
  2. We believe all homes should be safe and secure in order to ensure the privacy of tenants.
  3. We seek to end arbitrary evictions and all retaliatory actions against tenants.
  4. We believe that all people should have access to housing free from discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, political ideology, lifestyle, age, family status, marital status, amount or source of income, or disability.
  5. We believe that all tenants have the right to organize and determine the rules and conditions of their tenancy through collective bargaining and other means.
  6. We believe that all tenants have the right to live in the neighborhood of their choice, and we seek to increase the supply of rental housing, particularly for low and middle income tenants.
  7. We believe that housing exists to meet a basic human need, and that when conflict arises between tenants’ needs and owners’ profits, the basic need for affordable decent housing must take priority over the economic interests of the landowners.
  8. We, the members, commit ourselves to working together to accomplish the above stated goals.

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Resolution on Immigrant Rights permalink

Resolution to Strengthen and Protect the Human Rights of Immigrants to the United States

WHEREAS, the Tenants Union of Washington State draws inspiration from Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

WHEREAS, there is currently a growing movement to pass anti-immigrant initiatives and legislation around the country.

WHEREAS, these legislative proposals and initiatives both reflect and generate anti-immigrant prejudices and discrimination.

WHEREAS, the Tenants Union of Washington State recognizes the history of racial and ethnic discrimination through legislation to limit the opportunities and rights and racial and ethnic groups and immigrants and to divide oppressed peoples.

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National Tenant Resources permalink

The Tenants Union Washington provides services to renters in Washington State only. Looking for another Tenants Union?

List of Tenant Organizations by State:

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Employment Opportunities permalink

There are no open job postings at this time, but please check back for future openings!

The Tenants Union of Washington State is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer. The Tenants Union values people with lived experiences of housing instability, homelessness or incarceration and invites them to apply. People of color, women, immigrants and refugees, LGBTQI individuals, and people with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. The Tenants Union of Washington State is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer committed to workplace diversity.

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