The Tenants Union of Washington (TU) endorses Regional Proposition 1, a proposition that will appear on ballots of voters in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties, also known as Sound Transit 3 (ST3). We recognize that access to reliable transportation is one of the most important factors in determining social mobility. We also recognize the need for a more efficient public transportation system in our region as congestion worsens and more people are moving in and will be needing to be move around the region. The ST3 campaign has been very intentional about supporting affordable housing efforts by ensuring that surplus property and a creation of a fund from Sound Transit will be used to develop affordable housing in the areas in which they will be constructing, and has worked to provide strong relocation packages and payouts to the families and communities they will be buying land from in order to construct the rail system.
However, the Tenants Union is also wary of the fact that the light rail has historically displaced communities, especially communities of color. The neighborhood of Columbia City in South Seattle, a historically diverse and lower income community, has seen its rental prices increase dramatically and many people have been priced out of their homes. Living there has become popular because of the accommodation points that these properties have scored from being within walking distance to a light rail station. Although ST3 has been very intentional to prevent discrimination and abuse directly from Sound Transit during construction, it does very little in protecting tenants’ rights and preventing displacement from greedy landlords and developers who see the rapidly increasing value of purchasing property close to these future stations. Therefore, while the TU endorses ST3, we want to make it clear that in the case that ST3 passes, there is still a lot of work in forming policies and collective power building that will need to be done in order to protect our communities from these injustices.