In Tacoma, Tiki Apartment Evictions Highlight Greater Issues With Housing Crisis

Tiki Apartments residents and supporters after a Tacoma City Council meeting on April 26. Courtesy of Tiki Tenants Organizing Committee
Tiki Apartments residents and supporters after a Tacoma City Council meeting on April 26. Courtesy of Tiki Tenants Organizing Committee

Listen

A mass eviction from a Tacoma apartment complex is causing city leaders to take a hard look at tenant protections that have lagged behind Seattle’s. 

Residents of a complex called the Tiki Apartments, many with disabilities and fixed incomes, packed two City Council meetings this week to plead for help.

A new landlord from Seattle plans to renovate the complex and gave some residents less then a month to vacate. 

On Thursday, council members convened an emergency meeting and announced a last-minute deal with the landlord, CWD Investments LLC, to extend the move-out date to the end of June. 

But, as rents in Tacoma soar closer to Seattle levels, some said the Tiki Apartments episode is just the beginning.

James Williams, a member of the Tacoma Area Commission on Disabilities, called it “the canary in the coal mine.” 

“With the housing market the way it is, there are going to be more Tiki Apartments,” he told council members Thursday. “And more and more people are going to be dispossessed.”

Council Member Conor McCarthy said the situation was a sign of a broader crisis in Tacoma. He said about half of Tacoma households rent apartments and about half of households live on less than $52,000 a year.

“When we have a real-estate boom and we see rents go up almost 10 percent in a year, that has a dramatic impact,” he said. 

Tacoma rents have increased more than 8 percent since last year, one of the fastest rises among small cities nationwide, according to a report by the apartment search company RentCafé.

The City Council passed a law Thursday requiring landlords to give 90 days’ notice if a demolition or renovation will displace tenants. Previously, the required notice period was 20 days. Tacoma’s law is now in line with Seattle’s. 

Landlords can face fines of up to $1,000 per tenant per day for violating the law.

Council members also said they would work to create a relocation fund to help tenants displaced in the future. Seattle has had such a fund since 1990.

Residents of the Tiki Apartments received notice of the eviction earlier this month. The issue came to a head at a City Council meeting Tuesday.

“I’ve got six days and I’m going to be on the street,” Sarah Howe, a resident who is blind and uses a wheelchair, told council members.

Howe and her neighbors now have until June 30 to move out. Tenants will receive $900 if they move by the end of May and $600 if they vacate by the end of June. 

An attorney for CWD Investments LLC said the complex is in need of renovation and the company’s notification of tenants complies with federal and state law. 

Copyright 2018 KNKX

Related Stories:

Community members gathered in June for a celebration of life for Manuel Ellis, who was killed by Tacoma police in March. In this photo, one of the attendees hangs a flyer with Ellis’ image that says “Happy Father’s Day Manny.” CREDIT: Parker Miles Blohm/KNKX

Police, Reformers Face Off Over Proposal To Ban Chokeholds And Military Equipment In Washington

A proposal to impose sweeping restrictions on police tactics and techniques in Washington is highlighting stark differences of opinion between police and reform groups. That divide was on display Tuesday in the House Public Safety committee during a lengthy, virtual public hearing on an omnibus bill sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Jesse Johnson. Continue Reading Police, Reformers Face Off Over Proposal To Ban Chokeholds And Military Equipment In Washington

Read More »
The family of Manuel Ellis and their attorney, James Bible, address reporters during a news conference Tuesday in Tacoma. They renewed calls for the state to lead an independent investigation into Ellis' killing on March 3. CREDIT: Parker Miles Blohm/KNKX

Tacoma Case Of Manuel Ellis Prompts State Attorney General To Review Dozens Of Police Force Cases

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office is reviewing at least 30 cases in which police killed or wounded people in 2020, amid concerns law enforcement agencies are not following new rules governing how they hold each other accountable in cases of deadly force. Continue Reading Tacoma Case Of Manuel Ellis Prompts State Attorney General To Review Dozens Of Police Force Cases

Read More »
Manuel Ellis died after being arrested by Tacoma Police in March 2020. He death was later ruled a homicide. Courtesy of Tacoma Action Collection

Governor ‘Convinced’ Manuel Ellis Death Case In Tacoma Must Be Handled Outside Pierce County

Manuel Ellis’ death was ruled a homicide by the Pierce County medical examiner. It was caused by a lack of oxygen due to physical restraint. Records reviewed by KNKX Public Radio show Ellis said he couldn’t breathe within two minutes of making contact with officers. Continue Reading Governor ‘Convinced’ Manuel Ellis Death Case In Tacoma Must Be Handled Outside Pierce County

Read More »