In response to community pressure, Governor Jay Inlsee extended the statewide emergency eviction moratorium until March 31st, 2020. Although this is a step in the right direction, the moratorium extension does not protect our communities from crushing housing debt, violent displacement, and ongoing racist and predatory evictions and gentrification.
In days, the emergency eviction moratorium will expire and without bold action, Governor Jay Inslee will be unleashing a mass wave of catastrophic evictions, foreclosures, and housing debt in Washington. In June alone, over 247,000 renters were not able to pay rent and collectively accumulated millions of dollars of debt. To protect Washingtonians’ health during a global pandemic, we must fight to ensure all our neighbors are able to stay sheltered and emerge without insurmountable debt. That is why the Tenants Union and Be:Seattle, along with our coalition partners, are calling on Governor Inslee to Cancel Rent and Mortgages Washington!
This fight is responding to a housing instability crisis that the pandemic exacerbated but has been brewing for decades. The call to Cancel Rent and Mortgages WA is part of a national movement calling for the cancelation of rent, mortgages, utilities and all related debt for the duration of this crisis. We are not going to give up on our neighbors and we will not allow for the legacy of racist and predatory evictions and gentrification to continue in the shadow of COVID-19!
That is why we need you to join us in demanding that Governor Inslee and our Washington state representatives enact the following key policies:
Stop All Evictions and Displacement: Extend the eviction moratorium for private, subsidized, and public housing - including manufactured home owners, single-family homes, and residential hotel tenancies, regardless of ability to prove financial hardship, and immigration or criminal legal status. One study estimates that 1 in 6 Black adults in Pierce County and 1 in 11 Black adults in King County were named in an eviction filing between 2013 and 2017. Evictions during this global health crisis would worsen ongoing racist displacement and gentrification.
Prohibit Rent Increases: In order for us all to remain safe during the ongoing pandemic and recover from the economic burden we must extend the rent freeze through at least the end of 2022.
Stop the Sweeps: Sweeps place further hardship on our neighbors who were already facing housing, health, and financial insecurity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that cities should not disrupt encampments or unsheltered people, as it threatens to increase the spread of COVID-19 and limits connections with direct service providers.
...related to failure to pay rent during the pandemic. The rent cancellation policy must extend from April 1st 2020 through 90 days following the Declared State of Emergency.
Cover All Residential Renters. Since rent cancellation is not means-tested and does not rely on issuing government payments, it operates broadly and swiftly, while immediately benefiting those especially at-risk of homelessness — people informally employed, unbanked, or without permanent addresses — and undocumented people.
Suspend Mortgage Payments for Homeowners, Small Landlords, and Affordable Housing Providers. Mortgage payments should be reduced to zero and interest accrual must be suspended for homeowners, non-profit affordable housing providers, Project-Based Section 8, HUD housing, and small landlords who are “natural persons” (i.e. not corporations).
To ensure stability for renter households throughout and beyond the economic recession and recovery. Without meaningful legislative change to close loopholes in our current Landlord/Tenant Act, any protective measures will only delay, and not prevent, mass evictions.
We must pass transformative policies and progressive revenue reforms.
Immediately move public land into communal ownership for the development of permanently affordable, democratically-controlled housing. This land transfer must prioritize grassroots groups led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities and others systematically excluded from land ownership.
Pass a Right to Accessible Housing requiring emergency action to shelter unhoused people, fund habitability repairs, and ensure accessibility by mandating upgrades without displacement.
Enact COVID-19 Tenant and Community Opportunity to Purchase to give municipalities, non-profits, and tenants the right of first refusal over sales of all foreclosed properties and delinquent mortgage debt, and stall corporate landlords from gobbling these up.
Enact and Strengthen Community Reinvestment Acts to obligate banks to sell foreclosed property to local residents, community land trusts, co-ops, and conversion to social housing.
Pass Rent Control: Washington must protect the long-term stability of working people across the state by lifting the ban on rent control and instituting it statewide.
Build Social Housing: Build permanently affordable and democratically-owned 12 million units in the next 10 years, to meet the needs of cost-burdened renters.
This crisis highlights the role of systemic racism in housing instability. Undocumented communities aren’t able to access funds from the stimulus package to pay their rents. Workers from the informal economy and workers who needed to quit their jobs to keep themselves and their families safe are more likely to be from Black and Brown communities. Racist housing history means they are less likely to own homes and are more likely to experience retaliation, discrimination, and eviction from landlords. If we do not fight to cancel rent, mortgages, and all related debt, the pre-existing displacement affecting our low-income Black and brown neighbors will increase.