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Latest News - April 2014

April 29, 2014
Lockhaven Tenants Union make new demands for GRE during rally last Sunday
Source: Ballard News Tribune
By: Shane Harms

“Goodman! Goodman! You can’t hide. We can see your greedy side!” was a popular mantra members of the Tenant’s Union of Washington, Lockhaven Tenants Union and Theodora Rescue Committee shouted as they marched through Ballard last Sunday, April 27.

The group was demonstrating against what they called John Goodman’s (Chairman of Goodman Real Estate) “retaliation” against union members. Demonstrators marched over a mile from Ballard Commons Park to Goodman’s home and personal marina, Golden Tides, near Rays Boat House. They stopped at Lockhaven on the way.

GRE bought Lockhaven last year and sent over 20 eviction notices to tenants without the proper license to do so. After obtaining a tenant Relocation License from the City last month, GRE sped up the relocation schedule for five Lockhaven tenants. Three happened to be Lockhaven Union members. One member's relocation timeline was sped up from five months to one.

 “Though Goodman committed to transparent, honest communication, he went back on his word and retaliated against tenants organizing by accelerating their evictions four to six months earlier than promised,” wrote the Tenant’s Union of Washington.

The group demanded that 50 of the over 100 units at Lockhaven stay affordable housing.

“If you look at Goodman’s private marina, clearly he has enough money to make a minor and reasonable concession like that so the working class have a place to live,” said Jonathan Grant, Executive Director of the Washington Tenants Union.

The groups also demanded that the displaced Lockhaven tenants receive more time to move and more relocation assistance from GRE.

“The City has forced him to comply with the Tenants Relocation Assistance Ordinance which will help some low income tenants move. But there are many tenants that live paycheck to paycheck and they’re working class and not going to qualify for that, so we’re asking for relocation assistance for that group as well.”

John Metz, Owner and Tenant Assistance Supervisor with the Seattle Department of Development and Planning, said up to this point all the eligible Lockhaven tenants have received their relocation assistance and there have been no application appeals.

He also said that besides GRE’s first 20-eviction mistake, GRE has been compliant with the law.

“Quite frankly once they got on track they were totally compliant and that has been our experience with them. They just got off to the bad start,” said Metz.

Metz said that he worked with GRE in the past with the relocation of tenants from the Addison Building downtown on Fourth Street. GRE purchased the building in 2012 and installed a hybrid solar-thermal system, displacing tenants.

“The tenant population was more vulnerable. They were a section 8 population and GRE managed it well. I was surprised they stumbled with Lockhaven because they did such a good job with the Addison Project.”

GRE reported that in addition to providing their own relocation specialist, they also have provided more than $25 thousand in relocation assistance to those who needed help on top of the $34 thousand they provided for the City of Seattle Relocation Assistance Program.

For the extra assistance provided by GRE to Lockhaven tenants, Metz said “I really credit them for doing that because they are under no obligation aside from the Tenants Relocation Assistance.”

The future could hold more union action against GRE.

The Theodora in Ravenna is one of last HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) subsidized low income housing in Seattle. Currently GRE is looking into purchasing the property. The Theodora Rescue Committee and the Washington Tenants Union believe GRE will convert the Theodora into luxury apartments and charge market rates, displacing tenants in the process. They ask that GRE exit from the sale agreement and allow time for a non-profit to purchase the building.

“We’ve had conversations with a number of non-profit providers, and what we’ve heard is there is interest if Goodman backs out of the purchase and sale agreement, and that they would try to preserve the building if given an opportunity to do so,” said Grant.



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