The Mayor and Seattle City Council recently announced the initial appointees selected to serve on the new Seattle Renters’ Commission. Created by Ordinance 125280 in March 2017, the 15-member commission will advise the City on priorities, policies, and strategies related to all issues concerning renters across the City of Seattle. It will also monitor and provide feedback on the enforcement and effectiveness of legislation related to renters and renter protections. All the appointments are subject to City Council confirmation.
Michael Padilla currently works at a nonprofit devoted to engaging young people in the political process. He has worked at the nonprofit and grassroots level for the last five years in Seattle and Western Washington, helping create strong communities through campus organizing, community organizing, and advocating for progressive policies. He was born in Cuernavaca, Mexico but was raised in the great state of Washington, and graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His studies there focused on how government policies can best foster sustainable social, economic, and political progress for marginalized communities in an inclusive manner. He also possesses an associate’s degree in Civil Engineering from Lake Washington Technical College where his studies helped him gain an understanding of smart urban planning and development. He strives to continue using his knowledge and experience in a way that is inclusive of the voices and leaders of the city’s marginalized communities.
What inspired you to serve on the Seattle Renters’ Commission?
I was motivated to join the Renter’s Commission because of the current state of the city, and because I know that we have great leaders in our community that can help if we’re willing to listen and work with them. We’re facing a housing crisis and homelessness crisis, and families are being pushed out of Seattle. We need the voice of the people most affected to help the City Council and Mayor’s office form policy that addresses the needs of those most impacted. We’ve passed some progressive legislation in the last couple of years but if we don’t work to make Seattle more affordable so that families and whole communities aren’t displaced, then I feel that we aren’t living up to our values as a welcoming city. We’ve arrived where we are because we haven’t listened to the community, and the only way to move forward is to include the voices of those most marginalized.
How has your experience as a renter shaped your perspective of Seattle?
I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to continue living in Seattle at a time when it’s becoming more difficult for a lot of people. But in the time that I’ve lived in the city I’ve had to live with roommates to afford my rent. When I first moved to Seattle from the Eastside, after taking on a paid Fellowship program, I was only able to afford to live here because I was offered a homestay as part of my Fellowship. After wrapping that up, I was able to stay because I split a room with a friend in a rented house with 8 other people. That set-up worked for me but it is certainly not sustainable for many people and families throughout Seattle. With rents continuing to increase, even having multiple roommates won’t help. Young people dealing with student loan debt, families with medical debt, individuals on fixed incomes, and more all need our support if we are truly willing to be an inclusive and welcoming city. I grew up in apartments. I’ve been a renter my whole life and I’ve been fortunate enough to move forward. I want to take my personal experiences and make sure that others have the support they need to succeed.
What do you hope the Seattle Renters’ Commission will bring to the City?
I hope that the Renter’s Commission will bring more voices into the decision-making process. Seattle is facing some tough issues that require a new way of thinking and engagement to resolve. We need to engage renters, people experiencing homelessness, communities of color, immigrant communities, young people, and more if we actually want to solve anything. The people most directly affected by the policies the Commission will be looking at are the same people that know exactly what needs to be continued, expanded, or changed to truly help Seattleites succeed.
What neighborhood do you live in and what do you love most about it?
I currently live in Greenwood with my partner and our roommate. I’ve been in that neighborhood for a couple of years now and I love it. I really like having Greenlake a short walk away, a ton of great food within walking distance (it’s all about Gorditos!), and some of the best dogs the city has to offer for neighbors!