TACOMA, Wash. -- Among those rallying for tenants’ rights outside Tacoma City Hall on Tuesday was David Calhoun, a two-time felon.
“I did a lot of drugs, got strung out there, it led to a lot of crime,” said Calhoun.
He says he worked hard to get off the streets and is committed to living a more fulfilling life.
“I haven’t committed a crime since 1989,” said Calhoun, but the dark side of his past still shows up as permanent marks on rental applications.
“As soon as I mark that I’m a felon, it’s an automatic no,” said Calhoun.
Calhoun’s fiancé, Brooke Charlton, is on disability from a birth defect.
“So I can’t work, my income is $750 a month,” said Charlton.
The couple was living at the Tiki Apartments until they say they got a 26-day notice to leave after a Seattle developer took over the building.
“We had to sell pretty much everything we owned,” said Charlton.
They now split time living in their car and with Calhoun’s sister, who has four children and lives in a small apartment.
“It’s a basic human need to have housing,” said Charlton.
They’re pushing the Tacoma City Council to make temporary tenant rights permanent, like 90+ day notices to vacate, when rents increase, among other things. And that would apply to both month-to-month and longer lease agreements.
“How is that fair to the landlord?" asked Dustie Verwers, a landlord who is against the idea.
She said 90 days is compassionate for tenants but can put financial stress on landlords.
“Ninety days sounds great, but what happens when you have a tenant who’s not paying that bill?" Verwers asked.
At odds over what’s the best solution, both sides made their comments to the Tacoma City Council, hoping their elected officials will strike a balance before the crisis gets worse.