Mónica Mendoza-Castrejón grew up in Renton and Kent with her mother in a community of immigrants and refugees. She recalls helping her mom fill out Section 8 applications as a kid, and says growing up low-income and seeing the struggles of those in her community inspired her to give back.
Now 22, Mendoza-Castrejón works as a community organizer and tenant counselor for the Tenants Union of Washington, in the same South King County communities where she grew up.
“Being able to organize where I was born and raised, it’s an honor,” she said.
Her first campaign with the Tenants Union has involved working with 72 families facing evictions from the Firs Mobile Home Park. Their landlord, who owns the Sea-Tac Ramada Inn and other nearby hotels, has offered the families $2,000 in compensation for their forced relocation. In addition to helping the tenants discuss their concerns with local leaders, Mendoza-Castrejón has trained a group of them to act as leaders themselves.
Through protests, leadership trainings, meetings with city council members, and more, Mendoza-Castrejón has helped the Firs Mobile Home community fight against income discrimination and the larger problem of gentrification in Seattle.
“I feel like I’m closer to my roots,” Mendoza-Castrejón said. “I’m really advocating and pushing for the community.”
Read more about the Firs Mobile Home evictions here.
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This video was produced as part of a class taught by Seattle Times photographer Erika Schultz for the UW Journalism program.