SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane tenant advocates are calling for more protection for renters ahead of Monday night's Spokane City Council meeting.
The council will consider approving tax exemption agreements with two developers. Black Enterprises, LP and M & J Scott St, LLC both have housing project planned for different parts of Spokane. If the council approves multiple family housing property tax exemption agreements with those developers, they could save thousands in taxes through several years.
The multi-family tax exemption has been controversial since it passed earlier this year. Program supporters believe it will encourage growth by offering about $1,600 in savings on the owner's tax bill for every $120,000 of exempt assessed value.
Terri Anderson, Co-Executive Director of Tenants Union of Washington, said there should be no new tax breaks for developers if there are no requirements for affordable units. The union also wants to see more protections for renters, including rent-control rules and more reasonable vacate notices.
"We're seeing a lot of people lose their homes because of rent increases or these no-cause notices," Anderson said. "[City leaders] should pass tenant protections to keep tenants safe and protected in the homes they're already living in before giving tax breaks to build new homes."
Jeremy Logan has lived through the uncertainty that comes with rent hikes. He said about two years ago, he got a new landlord. What followed was 'horrifying.'
"He introduced himself by leaving a note on our door that the rent would be increased by $475 a month," Logan said.
If tenants didn't pay up, they needed to leave. Logan said that's what started his involvement in tenant advocacy. He and other renters brought their struggles to 4 News Now and city leaders. Eventually, a deal was struck.
Logan hasn't stopped caring about rising rents and affordable housing though. About a year ago, he co-founded Spokane Area Tenants United. It's a group designed for tenants to meet each other and advocate for their rights.
"I see hope for change. What I'm afraid of is that it will take too long and by the time we get there there will be so many people that are homeless and just completely burdened," Logan said.
4 News Now reached out to both developers mentioned in this story for comment. Neither responded.
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