Apartment residents share their displacement crisis

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Residents of the Tiki Apartments received quite a shock in early April when eviction notices were placed on the doors of the approximately 60 units. The modest, two-story complex is on South 12th Street next to State Route 16. Some of its residents are living on fixed incomes. Some are disabled. Many are wondering if they will soon join the growing ranks of the homeless on Tacoma’s streets.

The complex was recently sold to CWD Investments LLC of Seattle. Chad Duncan is listed as the registered member of the LLC. Allied Residential is the new property management firm. It issued eviction notices, giving half of the tenants until the end of April to move and the rest until the end of May. Tenants slated to leave at the end of April have been offered $600 to help with relocation costs, with the remaining tenants offered $900.

The Tenants Union of Washington held a meeting at the Tiki Apartments on April 19. The organization encouraged residents to attend the April 24 Tacoma City Council to express their concerns. Close to 30 people, many Tiki tenants, gave testimony.

Amy Tower, a community organizer with the Tenants Union, noted state law requires only a 20-day notice to vacate a rental property. She urged the council to pass a law giving tenants a longer time frame to move. “We know sometimes cities lead the state.”

Ivanova Smith is a member of the Pierce County chapter of People First of Washington, an advocacy group for people with disabilities. She said disabled Tiki residents could end up on the streets. “Do we need more people to become homeless?”

Several Tiki residents with disabilities shared their plight. One is Sarah Howe, who is hearing impaired, blind and confined to a wheelchair. She noted she would not fare well on the streets in her condition. “I am going to be homeless in six days and I do not know what to do.”

An attorney representing the new owner briefly addressed the council. He mentioned the relocation assistance and said the owner is not legally required to offer the money.

The council decided to hold an emergency meeting on April 26 at 4 p.m. at city hall to further discuss the situation and possible solutions. Councilmember Keith Blocker wants a policy that will give renters more time to move in such instances. “More than likely this will happen again.”

Councilmember Chris Beale, who was elected last November, said housing instability was a major concern he heard during his campaign. “A 20-day minimum is simply not enough,” he said. “We need to act quickly. We need to act now.”

“Unfortunately, you are not an isolated situation,” Councilmember Ryan Mello said to the Tiki tenants.

Mayor Victoria Woodards asked the city attorney to put together a draft ordinance regarding eviction notices and to look into alleged violations of the landlord/tenant act.

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