RHAWA Sits Down with Tacoma Councilmember John Hines

Posted By: Corey Hjalseth Advocacy, Government,

As the External Affairs Manager for RHAWA one of my new and exciting responsibilities has been to launch our new Podcast, Housing Matters. With the collaboration of the internal staff here at RHAWA and an investment in a microphone to carry our mission to our members and the public. RHAWA’s new Podcast Housing Matters is available across all major platforms as well as a video version on our YouTube channel. We are very excited to move forward with this new venture. Look forward to a new episode every two weeks. 

For our inaugural podcast, I sat down with Tacoma City Councilmember John Hines, who represents District 1. District 1, for those familiar with Tacoma, is the majority of the North End, minus Old Town, and continues all the way to the West End to include the Narrows Bridges and Point Defiance. With regards to Tacoma, what is on everybody’s mind in our industry is ballot Measure 1. I wrote at length about this measure in a previous issue of the Current, but I wanted to get Councilmember Hines’ perspective. We didn’t keep it all business, as I discussed with him his roots in Tacoma, his decision to run for City Council, and raising his kids in the City of Destiny.

“I have always just been really interested in kind of local government, civic engagement, volunteerism kind of throughout my career and when I was in high school, college and then I was a teacher for most of my career. I still work as an educator and have just really been involved in community service,” Hines said. 

I asked him about raising his family in Tacoma as we both have younger children. We couldn’t have agreed more that they keep us on our toes constantly. “I tell people all the time, my kids make me a better person. They push my patience and my empathy, and it makes me a better person every day.” 

We of course spoke about the impending ballot measure on Tacoma’s ballot for November 7th, Measure 1. The Tacoma City Council already instituted a slew of new rental housing laws in July of 2023, but the group Tacoma For All put forth an initiative ballot to take the laws in a radical direction. 

RHAWA’s Executive Director and President Sean Flynn as well as a local housing provider took part in a debate with Tacoma For All, the organization that put forward the measure. Flynn pushed back on the idea that this measure would not cost Tacoma any money to operate any sort of compliance or registration department. “If you believe this is going to cost the city of Tacoma nothing, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you,” Flynn stated at the debate. “This is going to cost money. Anytime anyone tells you it is going to be free, it's never free.” 

Councilmember Hines also disagreed that this would not cost Tacoma any money at all. “There’s gonna be compliance costs. Someone’s gonna have to investigate this and someone is going to have to administer some of this process. If the code is passed the city is going to invest a bunch of time into making it work. I don’t think you create brand-new programs without cost. As a council member, I know when I want to create a program, it has a cost associated with it.” 

Hines and I also discussed the proposed winter eviction moratorium and how that could affect some of his constituents and he had a compelling firsthand account of how this would negatively impact a woman he spoke with at a local retirement home. 

“A story I like to tell is that there was a woman I went and talked to some people over at Franke Tobey Jones, which is a retirement home here in the city of Tacoma. And a woman came up to me and she said, you know, you don’t understand what this is going to do to me. The only reason I am able to stay in my assisted living facility is because I still hold onto the house that my husband and I lived in, and that rent is what pays my ability to stay here. And she had this great sense where she said, if I have to eat the cost for the rent not being paid, I’m not gonna eat.”  

If you would like to listen to or watch the interview in its entirety, check out RHAWA’s website under the “Resources” tab at the top of the page you will find a drop-down for the podcast page. On the page, you will find links to all major podcast platforms and our YouTube channel.