Photo courtesy of InterIm CDA.

Hoping we can all come out of the pandemic with a home…

After the pandemic went beyond the first few months or so, community leaders and government actors became concerned about the amount of debt renters were accumulating. As the pandemic comes closer to being over, experts and community organizations have become increasingly worried about a tidal wave of evictions that will lead to homelessness. Studies show that throughout Washington, more than 160,000 renters are still behind on rent. In Seattle, as of late March, 13,000 low income renters are behind on rent. Governor Jay Inslee and Mayor Jenny Durkan have responded by extending an eviction moratorium until June 30th.

The Washington legislature has also responded, passing bills that do a number of things. Our state has passed forward hundreds of millions of dollars in rental assistance both from new sources created in Washington state (such as a new real estate document recording fee) and federal dollars passed on by the CARES act or the American Rescue Act. The legislature has also passed, amongst other protections, a ban on twenty day no-cause eviction warrants, a right to counsel for low-income tenants facing evictions, and more. This is all done because the eviction moratoriums cannot go on forever, and so a combination of plentiful rental assistance and strong renter protections are needed to keep our communities housed.

Additionally, at this moment, a “renters bill of rights” is being worked on by the municipal government, with few concrete details being finalized so far. This will take time to develop. This article is meant to be a small sample of the tenants right related work going on throughout Washington.

We recommend following organizations to be involved in this work. InterIm CDA participates in renter rights work because it is part of equitable development. But others are more heavily involved including Be:Seattle, The Tenants Union, and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.

We also ask that you take time to google renters’ rights in (your city). Familiarize yourself with your rights and contact myself or one of the above organizations. You can also contact me at [email protected] and we can see which direction would be best to point you in. It is important to know your rights to ensure your landlord is not mistreating you, or your families’ landlords are not mistreating them. If you become suspicious of something your landlord is doing, any of the above organizations can help you learn what to do next.

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