Jon Grant is the former director of the Tenants Union, previously a housing advocate with nonprofit Solid Ground, a community organizer, and recently worked on the successful passage of I-1433 to raise the state minimum wage.
Over the past decade Jon has been a community leader who has gotten results for progressive causes in our city. His efforts have help expand protections for domestic violence survivors, prevent the displacement of hundreds of low income families, improve health and safety standards in people’s homes, build a powerful community based organization, and raise wages and require paid sick leave for workers.
At the heart of all this work is Jon’s belief that movement building is the key to any victory. While at the Tenants Union he would hear story after story of a tenant’s health and safety being put at risk because of the negligence of a slumlord; loose wires in an open wall, septic systems flooding homes, black mold in a child’s bedroom. After years of delay by the city to take action because of pressure from the landlord industry, Jon made holding slumlords accountable the Tenants Union’s highest priority. Families living in deplorable conditions throughout the city were organized and made their voices heard
|Shaking Governor Inslee's hand after passing Senate Bill 5528 in 2013, expanding protections for domestic violence survivors facing discrimination.|
at city hall. After sustained community pressure this resulted in the passage of a proactive rental inspection law that improves the health and safety standards in the homes of over 27,000 Seattleites. It was only when people organized that this change was made possible.
One of Jon’s proudest accomplishments is the Tenants Union itself. In 2010 the organization was on the brink of collapse. Believing the community must not lose an organized voice for renters, Jon jumped into the role of Executive Director, taking over a troubled agency that had lost most of its funding and laid off its staff. In just a few years time and tireless hours of work, Jon was able to double the TU’s budget, grow to ten staff members, open up new offices across the state in Seattle and Spokane, triple the number of people served through its housing counseling programs, champion a half dozen pieces of tenants’ rights legislation at the federal, state and local level, and transform the organization into one of our region’s leading forces for housing justice.
Jon is unafraid to stand up to our city’s most powerful corporate interests. During his 2015 bid for Seattle City Council, corporate executives from Triad Capital threatened him with a “shakedown”, telling him that they were prepared to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to sink his campaign. Their demand was for Jon to withdraw a lawsuit that was started by a citywide coalition of tenants while he was head of the Tenants Union. The tenants’ legal action blocked Triad’s 400 million dollar development for million dollar condos to be built on city land in exchange for no affordable housing. Rather than submit to Triad’s brazen threat, Jon went public to shine light on just how far corporate executives will go to manipulate our political system for their private gain. After Jon went public, the city killed Triad’s deal, the tenants won a multimillion dollar settlement, and just this year the city was able to broker a better deal for the land that resulted in 22 million dollars for affordable housing and equitable development.
After his race in 2015 Jon did not want to lose the momentum and energy built from his previous campaign for city council. He immediately signed up as the Outreach Director with Raise Up Washington, the coalition that was formed to pass I-1433 and asked all of his supporters to volunteer. Thanks to the hard work of thousands of volunteers across the state, and because of the workers who organized and led the effort, over one million workers will have access to paid sick and safe leave, and 730,000 workers will see a raise in their wages this year.
Jon has lived all across Seattle; in Beacon Hill, Greenwood, Georgetown, Wedgewood, and currently lives in the Hillman City neighborhood in south Seattle.
|Jon speaking at a rally calling on the City to take bold action to tackle Seattle's skyrocketing rents.|