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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
Violet Lavatai

Violet Lavatai Executive Director

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.

Terris pic

Terri Anderson Spokane Director/Lead in Policies

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.

Jenny photo

Jenny McIntosh Operations Manager

With a background in nonprofits, grassroots organizing, and social work, Jenny is grateful to work at an organization that is deeply rooted in social justice and movement building. She loves learning about and exploring ways to embody and integrate social justice commitments and visions for liberation into everyday organizational functions, and she enjoys supporting the TU with organizational development, financial management, and day-to-day office support. Jenny moved to Seattle in 2008 after growing up in Michigan, and she is grateful to continue to live near beautiful bodies of water. When she’s not working, she enjoys cuddling her two cats, singing, learning & practicing somatics, and spending time outdoors.


Julissa Sánchez Community Organizer & Tenant Counselor

A fierce mujer, mother, community organizer, educator, youth, decolonizing, housing and racial justice advocate, xicana feminist and writer. She is passionate about writing as a form of expression and believes in the power of owning ones narratives. Her writing is focused on lived experience, hoping to inspire mujeres to own their stories, power and live their truths.

Her passion for culture, decolonization, policy, human rights and social justice led her to study International Relations: Latin American Studies, with a minor in Human Rights at the University of Washington. She began her career in housing justice at the Tenants Union. Her work is focused on community led organizing; self empowerment, anti-displacement, anti-racist, tenant rights advocacy, primarily in Latinx, Spanish-speaking, immigrant and refugee communities experiencing displacement, discrimination and housing injustices. Julissa was a lead organizer in the City of Burien, where she and her community pushed City Council amounting in the passing of the Just Cause ordinance along with other tenant protections.

Julissa is a xicana Sinaloense, originally from Los Angeles, who grew up along the West Coast, from Sinaloa to Seattle. She recently published her first novel, La Primavera.

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!

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.


Salvador Recinos Tenant Advocate Community Organizer

Salvador was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. His family is from El Salvador. His parents fled El Salvador during its civil war where an oppressive government was murdering unarmed non-combatant citizens.

He served in the United States Army as a combat medic for 8 years and then worked as an In-home tutor for children with Autism.

He worked in the Emergency Room as an ER Tech for 10 years. It was here that his values lead him to advocate as a Spanish interpreter for Language Justice and Healthcare Justice in the Emergency Department.

Now his priorities are his family and the work that he does at the Tenants Union of Washington State.

Areas of work include: Education and Empowering of English and Spanish speaking Tenants to know and exercising their tenants rights. He helps communities organize to demand equity, and housing justice. He advocates for tenant rights in local government and hopes to advocate state wide for tenants rights.

(Los Angeles, California was ancestrally home to the Tongva and Tataviam people. The Tonva and Tataviam were American Indians who were removed from their lands and displaced through governmental policies of settler colonialism. (

Karen Calles Picture

Káren Calles Development and Communications Manager

Káren was born and raised in San Jose, California ancestrally known as Muwekma Ohlone land. Her families are originally from El Salvador and Mexico. She is a first-generation college graduate with a B.A. in Psychology, from the University of California Santa Cruz. As a second-generation immigrant, Káren values and advocates for access, equity, diversity, and inclusion. She is committed to being a resource for individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences to access transformative change through community organizing.

Areas of work include: Overseeing fundraising campaigns, fostering and maintaining relations with funders, managing and growing the TU's membership program, coordinating communication through social media and the TU's website, and coordinating the grant program.

Something that inspires her is this Spanish saying, " Quisieron enterrarnos, pero no sabían que éramos semillas". Translation, " They tried to bury us, but they did not know we were seeds".

TU Board
Hannah Bahnmiller

Hannah Bahnmiller Chair President

Hannah is Chair President of the TU’s Board of Directors, and a member of the Executive Committee and the Resource Development Committee.

Hannah is a housing professional who firmly believes in the power of people-led and community-driven movements. She moved to Washington almost three years ago after getting a degree in urban planning in New York. She is excited to bring her background in affordable housing legislation, policy, and strategic planning to the Tenants Union Board.

Hannah became involved in the Tenants Union last fall as a volunteer at the Renter Power Assembly. Her past advocacy work centered on workers’ rights, government accountability, and LGBTQ issues. She was a steering committee member and head of legal affairs for her graduate worker union and spent much of graduate school organizing her peers to unionize.

Hannah is originally from a small, rural town in Minnesota but loves the vibrancy and diversity of Washington. She takes every opportunity possible to travel and loves to cook new cuisines with her partner.

Mike Seo Treasurer

Data Analyst at SEIU775 and previously he worked as a senior financial analyst for Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a community development financial institution that invests in affordable housing projects all over the nation.

Sameer Ranade

Sameer Ranade President

Sameer is President of the TU Board of Directors and Chair of the Executive Committee. He is also a member of the Internal Policy & Personnel Committee.

Sameer was born in Kansas City, MO, as the son of immigrants from Mumbai, India. Sameer’s passion for improving the human condition was inherited from his father, who came to the U.S. to study public health and served as the Public Health Director of Johnson County, KS. Sameer considers Washington to be his home state, as his family moved to Kennewick when he was 11 years old.

Sameer holds a B.A. in Political Science from Washington State University and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Washington. Sameer’s hobbies include performing environmental spoken word rhymes, drinking highly caffeinated coffee, and reading the New York Times. Sameer is enthusiastic about the work of creating a society grounded in fairness and compassion. He has pursued this though an extensive public service career, spanning jobs on the Hill in Olympia and Washington, D.C., organizing on five elections — including both of President Obama’s campaigns — and at five different environmental organizations.

In 2016, Sameer ran for an open seat in the Washington State House from the 43rd Legislative District on a climate justice platform. He currently works as a Civic Engagement and Policy Manager at Front & Centered (F&C), a statewide coalition of racial justice groups that advocate for structural changes to address climate change. To Sameer, housing justice is a matter of environmental justice. A clean environment isn’t possible without granting everyone safe and affordable housing. Sameer firmly believes that all housing should meet strict health codes and be accommodating to transportation, parks, jobs, schools, cultural centers, and our ability to meet basic needs. This is a matter of climate, economic, and social justice.

In his current job at F&C, the core focus of Sameer’s work is to strengthen the voice of marginalized communities. He does this through granting capacity funds to their coalition members, co-organizing community listening sessions on policy issues, and advocating alongside our members for policy changes in Olympia that reflect environmental justice principles. Sameer brings to the TU a breadth of relationships with key advocacy organizations in Washington State along with experience creating policies and navigating the legislative process. Affordable housing is essential to solving the climate crisis in a just and effective manner. Sameer is fully committed to making affordable housing a right and priority of our government. Sameer is drawn to serve on the TU Board because he knows its mission is crucial to achieving a just society.

Alex Knox

Alexander Knox Vice President

Alexander is Vice President of the TU Board of Directors and member of the Executive Committee and the Internal Policy & Personnel Committee.

Originally from Coeur d’ Alene, ID, Alexander moved to Spokane about 5 years ago and since then has made it home. An RMA/Nursing Assistant by trade, he’s been working at MultiCare Deaconess Hospital for 2 years. Alexander loves spending time outdoors and looks forward to summer every year when he can go camping, swimming and hiking.

Alexander currently attends Spokane Community College, where he’s finishing prerequisites to enter their nursing program. In addition to the work Alexander does at the hospital, he stays very active in his community. His experiences include being an elected Precinct Committee Officer for the Washington State Democratic Party, being elected as his local neighborhood council’s President and Chairman of the Executive Committee for the Shiloh Hills Neighborhood Council. He volunteers at the Spokane Humane Society and serves as a Union Delegate and Member Political Organizer for SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. In 2016, he was appointed by the BoCC for Spokane County to serve on the Behavioral Health Advisory Board and have recently been elected Vice Chair of that Board. In 2016 Alexander also became involved with the Board of Directors for the Spokane Edible Tree Project, became the Eastern Regional Director of Membership for the Young Democrats of Washington and a News Producer for KYRS Spokane’s Thin Air Community Radio.

Being a renter himself, Alexander understands the unique challenges renters face when having to fight against a landlord, and how they hold all of the power in our current system. Alexander is excited to be on the TU Board and make sure Eastern Washington gets support to continue the fight for housing justice.

Cyril Hylton

Cyril is a member of the Finance Committee, and is the longest-tenured member of the TU Board of Directors.

Cyril has been a tenant leader for many years and has helped the tenants resolve issues that go on under Senior Housing Assistant Group (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 SHAG when they tried to evict an elderly woman, and has worked to bring light to poor living conditions for the elderly.

The 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.

Chasten Cole

Chasten Cole

Chasten is a member of the Organizing, Membership & Policy Strategy Committee.

Chasten grew up in Washington State and has encountered all types of life experiences. She has spent the last 7-10 years in cosmetology and has owned her own salon. She also works with others in her community during the holidays, hosting canned food drives with Rotary First Harvest and competing in competition fundraisers. Through working with people, she has learned that she had much greater work to do, which has led her to philanthropy. Through every hairstyle that Chasten performed on the individual, they left feeling beautiful from the inside out. This taught her that it was more than just a look that she created for people, it was an experience and a conversation that led her to think deeper on how she could help evolve Humanity.

She then began her Venture in which she decided to move from Spokane to Seattle, where there would be more opportunities to involve herself in philanthropic ventures. She began working with employee rights advocating for the 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, Working Washington. Chasten then landed a position at the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, where she worked with the vulnerable homeless community. After being a part of this community herself with her two children in an attempt to flee from their abusive father, she had gained a true understanding of what this community is up against and the numerous challenges and struggles — that to some may seem incomprehensible.

Chasten has a great understanding of the needs and situations many people are up against, which gives her the inspiration to assist and advocate until a fluent plan and structure is executed to eliminate homelessness, replace discrimination with compassion, and provide fair and equal housing for all — starting in her own community.

Corey Perrien

Corey Perrien

Corey grew up in what she thinks is the most picturesque place on earth — the Mat-Su Valley in Alaska. There, she learned that life was a space to exist in and move through with freedom. She wandered around as a child and was happy just to be as she looked up into the bright, sparkling wintery skies dancing with vibrant colors of the aurora. Life was good in those moments. Corey currently resides in Shoreline, WA, and works as a family supported housing advocate. She has a few hobbies, including beading, jewelry repair, painting, sewing, and walking. Corey has a passion for working with underprivileged populations — providing necessary resources and knowledge to assist in helping communities move forward positively.

Corey has worked to get individuals housed and keep them housed. This work has been a struggle, especially working within the homeless population, as there are underlying challenges they are faced with. Corey feels there should be better wraparound care and services either located with housing or very close. Corey personally has had some difficult interactions with landlords, both in Shoreline and Seattle, when they did not provide appropriate assistance when she needed them to. One instance was when she had a water leak coming from her bathroom ceiling light fixture. They did not come out until her apartment completely flooded and mold had formed. She then contacted the Tenants Union of WA to find out what her rights were, and the TU gave a lot of helpful information.

One of Corey’s greatest strengths is her ability to assist with mediation of change in policies and procedures to increase relationships with community partners. She has been particularly good at doing this for the past four years enhancing employer goals and employees’ productivity, all while building bridges and improving communication and understanding within business.

In the past, Corey has worked as a domestic violence advocate, helping to draft and implement the first sexual assault response team and shelter system throughout rural Alaska. Corey has worked as a Case Manager for the State of Alaska’s TANF program, helping families get education and training needed to sustain them as well as provide them with guidance to help them grow in self-confidence, which allowed them to gain better employment opportunities.

Corey also worked for YouthCare as the WIA Case Manager, helping to mentor homeless and at-risk youth, allowing them to gain opportunities in training programs, and creating internships for them to gain skills in. Corey has worked to help them gain confidence in their abilities and become self-advocates to go out and talk with lawmakers to help effect positive changes within their community.

Corey has also worked for the Workforce Development Counsel of King County as a business services representative, helping businesses create or change policies to better reflect the working needs of their staff and bridge opportunity gaps for marginalized workers.


Diana Balcazar

Growing up in Bellevue, Diana fell in love with all that the East Side of the Greater Seattle Area had to offer — close enough to everything, family-friendly, and rich in opportunity. What Diana didn’t fully grasp until adulthood is just how much sacrifice low-income families (like her own single mother had) have to make in order to ensure that their children can grow up in safe and thriving neighborhoods like the ones she grew up in. It was when family had fallen upon the most difficult of times that her mother, brothers, and she had to split up and Diana had no option but to completely become independent of all financial and familial support at the age of 16.

The importance of housing justice was first made apparent to her when she was faced with the harsh reality of becoming a young, Latina renter who was frequently placed in unfair positions where she felt it necessary to become familiar with landlord-tenant laws and learn to become an advocate for her own rights against those who had no intention of respecting them.

One of the greatest resources Diana has discovered was the Tenant’s Union of Washington State’s website. Whatever question Diana seemed to have was thoroughly and accurately addressed. As the years went on and Diana’s landlords changed from place to place, the website would always seem to be armed with answers to each upcoming matter. She’s since shared this wealth of knowledge gained from the TU with peers, family members, and co-workers who would benefit from what it offers and continues doing so today.

Diana’s reason for wanting to contribute on a larger scale is her passion for equality in housing stability — how do other members of her ethnic community, gender, and age respond to injustices faced when trying to secure a home? Do all ethnic communities have the same rights, awareness, and advocacy sources? How can we make sure that reporting housing discrimination is possible for everyone, in any language? Why should it be next to impossible for low-income families to raise their children in a diverse community that embraces youth enrichment efforts?

The mere thought of those without a voice going through similar adversities is heartbreaking for Diana, and one of her goals in joining the TU is to broaden the access that members of the community have to resources that will help strengthen their knowledge as renters and minimize the imbalance of empowerment and peace of mind that we all deserve to have. Housing justice is social justice, and its preservation is essential for flourishing universally.

Eliana Horn

Eliana Horn

Eliana is Co-Chair of the Organizing, Membership & Policy Strategy Committee and a member of the Resource Development Committee.

Eliana worked as an organizer at the Tenants Union between 2012 and 2015 supporting tenants resisting displacement from their buildings, stopping a draconian policy that would have resulted in the eviction of tens of thousands of public housing and Section 8 tenants, and growing the movement for housing justice.

They currently work as an attorney at Colectiva Legal Del Pueblo, a nonprofit collective working to build community leadership and power for migrant justice through legal advocacy and education. They also organize for justice in Palestine and Palestinian liberation. Eliana believes that housing justice is ultimately about reimagining how we share our common resources — land, energy, water, labor — to enable lives of dignity and fulfillment for everyone.

They dream of a day where we move away from a speculative market where land is carved up into private plots for the purposes of making money to a time when everyone thinks of themselves as stewards of these resources for the common good of everyone. In this world we prioritize people over profit (“profit” doesn't really exist), do the hard work of true repair with Indigenous Black and Brown communities, and continue to build collective responsibility to ensure continual racial, economic, and gender justice. They continue to be inspired by the TU organizers engaging people at the building, block, and community level and they are so excited to support that work.

John Stovall

John Stovall

John is a member of the Organizing, Membership & Policy Strategy Committee.

John is a passionate advocate and organizer for housing justice in Washington. After moving from Athens, GA, to Seattle in 2013, John worked for several years at Compass Housing Alliance and DESC assisting adults with basic survival needs and connecting them with housing opportunities. After becoming frustrated by the day-to-day barriers that people face as a result of intersecting unjust systems, his work shifted toward organizing and legislative advocacy.

In his day job at the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, John brings people together to fight for progressive statewide policy change. Over the last two years, he has worked closely with Tenants Union staff to push for eviction reforms, just cause eviction protections, installment payment plans for move-in fees, anti-rent gouging policies, and more. John received a Master’s of Public Administration from the Evans School of Public Policy in 2019, and brings a knowledge of housing and homelessness policy, organizational management, and movement-building to the Board.

John rents an upper unit in a shared house in Seattle’s University District. He loves to garden, play soccer, and kayak.

Roseanna Hopper

Roseanna Hopper

Rose is Co-Chair of the Internal Policy & Personnel Committee and a member of the Finance Committee.

Rose moved to Tacoma, WA, in 2018 with her wife and three cats and felt very lucky to connect with the Tacoma Tenants Organizing Committee (TTOC). Rose has been a tenant for all of her adult life and lived in several states, from Alaska to Georgia, in her youth. Working with TTOC, Rose has had the opportunity to join in actions to encourage the delay of evictions for tenants in the Merkle Hotel as well as advocating for increased city-wide tenant protections on the heels of unjust evictions of Tikki apartment residents. Rose has also been very excited to form connections with TTOC and another local organization, Hilltop Urban Gardens, canvassing together in the Hilltop neighborhood.

Rose really loves the motto “Housing Justice Now.” To Rose, it holds the stories of housing injustices and also makes a demand, and the demand is as deep and broad as we allow it to be in our organizing. Housing Justice, for Rose, looks like a state in which everyone is safely housed, has access to clean water and amenities like restrooms, and folks need not fear arbitrary displacement from rising rents or gentrification. Rose believes we can accomplish Housing Justice by fighting for housing as a human right, by building power together with tenants and our neighbors experiencing houselessness, and by leveraging technologies such as community land trusts to exercise shared responsibility for land and housing.

She is also passionate about immigrant justice, indigenous sovereignty, learning languages, and listening to audio books from the library.

Shar Lichty

Shar is a member of the Organizing, Membership & Policy Strategy Committee.

Shar was born and lived in Southern California until 1995, when she moved to Eastern Washington. Shar lived in a rural area north of Spokane until 2004. She has four children and four grandchildren, all living in the Spokane area. Shar loves camping, fishing, and kayaking whenever the weather permits. During the winter months, she enjoys reading and crocheting.

Shar is an organizer at the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, where she has been since 2009. Shar received her BASW with a minor in Africana Education from EWU in June 2010. She has worked on many social justice issues including: ending mass incarceration, repealing the death penalty, police accountability, fair hiring, LGBTQ safety and liberation, militarism, countering white nationalism, supporting immigrants and refugees, housing justice, and economic justice with an intersectional racial equity lens. Shar firmly believes that ordinary people have the ability to do extraordinary things when they organize and take action together.

In addition to organizing, Shar has experience in facilitation, fundraising, volunteer management, and policy, and is a member of the Greater Spokane Progress Board. Shar has been a tenant her entire adult life. She has had many negative, life-changing experiences as a tenant over the decades, including homelessness after being priced out of a rental home. As a domestic violence survivor, many of Shar s experiences compounded her housing insecurity, increasing her inability to safely leave and her economic struggles afterward. Shar currently pays 42% of her income on rent. She brings her personal experiences as a tenant combined with her professional experience as an organizer for social justice to her housing justice work.

Shar began attending the Spokane Tenant Union meetings in 2015, when she was running for Mayor of Spokane. At the first meeting she attended, she heard stories so similar to her own experiences and realized she had found more of her people. Shar has consistently been attending Spokane TU meetings ever since. She has been part of delegations meeting with Spokane City Council members, and has attended and testified at City Council meetings, tenant town halls, and landlord/tenant forums. Shar is honored to continue her work with the Tenants Union as a member of the Board.

Tammy Nguyen

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.

Tanya Webking

Tanya Webking

Tanya is an At-Large member of the Executive Committee and Chair of the Resource Development Committee.

Tanya is Indigenous Canadian from the Tlicho Nation in the Northwest Territories. She grew up in Southern Alberta in a very politically minded environment with a focus on human rights and would definitely call herself a second generation social activist.

Tanya began working as a mental health and addictions counselor/outreach worker with the homeless community in the downtown eastside of Vancouver, B.C., in 1997. She worked for more than 10 years in the areas of housing, outreach, one-to-one contracts specializing with brain injury and FAS/FAE, and legal advocacy. She also worked as a project coordinator for the B.C. CDC in HIV/AIDS in research assessing risk factors and tracking the mobility of diseases with addicts, and spent five years doing victim/offender mediation for court binding healing circles for Vancouver’s Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services.

Much of Tanya’s career was spent working specifically as a First Nations’ worker, as culturally specific discussions and healing practices are vital in that work. She will always see herself as a counselor, as being a helper is where Tanya’s spirit is most joyful.

Tanya was at the Tiki Apartments in Tacoma that first weekend of outreach in April 2018, and went straight into Tacoma City Council the following day, and many more days to follow. That was her introduction to the Washington Tenants Union and to the great work of TU staff member Amy Tower. This was the inception of the Tacoma Tenants Organizing Committee (TTOC), and she is now two years in. Tanya felt like all of her education, work experience and upbringing has prepared her for this. She is ready to work toward equalizing the power structure between landlords and tenants and is about taking on the power structure between real estate PAC funds and political campaigns. Tanya is energetic, organized, a creative thinker, and is intellectually curious, and likes to work with humor, as it is a great tool to disarm people and make the work itself more enjoyable.

Her post-secondary education includes two years in journalism, three years in social work, and two years in the paralegal program. Tanya loves research, writing, and the law and how the law is applied, and she recently started writing Action Network letters for TTOC. Tanya is passionate about getting “Housing is a Human Right” codified into law, not just for Washington State — but nationally. The current pandemic may be the right moment to rally national organizing. Teamwork makes the dream work. Tanya is ready to seize this moment.

Trisha York

Trisha York

Trisha is Co-Chair of the Internal Policy & Personnel Committee and a member of the Organizing, Membership & Policy Strategy Committee.

Trisha’s experience ranges from early direct social service work and leadership in rural Lewis and Thurston Counties, to nearly a decade in crisis communication and dispute resolution at the executive level in the timeshare industry. She is also a two-term AmeriCorps Alumni. More recently, Trisha started volunteering on the Client Advisory Board of North Helpline, who directly serves to fight food and housing insecurity in North Seattle. In total, Trisha has nearly 30 years of experience solving problems through advocacy.

For four decades, Trisha has managed multiple invisible and visible disabilities. In that process, she has had to navigate tough situations with diplomacy, directness, and a healthy sense of humor — pun intended. Out of necessity, Trisha learned a lot about disability equity and tenants’ rights.

Trisha has two decades of lived experience as a renter in subsidized housing, and much of that time in a wheelchair. Trisha believes we have a long way to go in protecting the lives of all marginalized groups. Trisha uses her approach-ability, candid outlook, and advocacy experience in her Board service.

Trisha’s hobbies include watching live standup comedy, creative writing, and scratch baking.

Mara Spitzer

Mara is a Native American resident of Spokane, WA and joins the Tenants Union with a long history of community activism. Originally from Great Falls Montana, she’s an active participant in Spokane Coalition Builders, Spokane Water Protectors and was a lead organizer on the recount campaign against Spokane Mayor Condon.

Additional Board Members
Bette Reed

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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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.

Read more on "TU Staff & Board" »

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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