On the morning of Oct. 7, a large crowd gathered on the corner of Edmunds and Rainier in the Columbia City neighborhood. Many were frustrated tenants who are fed up of living among roaches, broken appliances, mold and more in an apartment complex owned by landlord Carl Haglund.
After he issued a rent hike that almost doubled what residents were paying, action was planned by city councilmembers and the Tenants Union. Haglund, who heard about the scheduled protest, released a public statement the night before, which stated he did not know the extent of the conditions and offered free rent for the month of October.
“He increased our rent but didn’t fix anything,” said Samira Meshalla, an Ethiopian immigrant who lives in Haglund’s Rainier apartments with her father. “There are small animals in the apartment, we don’t have a heater, the oven doesn’t work. It’s not healthy.”
Despite Haglund’s perceived concessions, Seattle councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Nick Licatta and Kshama Sawant, and King County Councilmember Larry Gossett stood with the Tenants Union of Washington State and other advocates calling for an end to current living conditions and rent hikes in Haglund residences.
“He’s just one person. I’m sure a lot of people do this in the city, so if he stops, someone else might replace him,” said Doreen McGrath, a concerned South Seattle resident and volunteer with the Freedom Socialist Party. “We all need rent control.”