housing action
Hundreds of Thousands of Washingtonians at Risk of Displacement and homelessness by Excessive Rent Increases


Fate of Measure to Stabilize Rent up to WA Senate Leadership

Olympia, WA – Today, Washington Senate Ways & Means Committee Chair June Robinson announced the committee will not be taking action on HB 2114, a measure to cap the amount that rent can be increased by landlords on current tenancies. The House approved the bill on February 13. With 10 days left in the 2024 Washington legislative session, supporters of a measure to restrict landlords from issuing excessive rent increases are urging Senator Billig and Senate leadership to allow the bill to get to the floor for a vote. 

Michele Thomas, Advocacy and Policy Director for the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance expressed the feelings of thousands of tenants, landlords and affordable housing advocates who asked lawmakers to put a stop to rent gouging:

“Senate leadership has 10 more days to take action, including pulling this critically needed legislation out of committee for a floor vote. Without rent stabilization, nearly 1 million households will continue to face unchecked rent hikes, which are causing displacement and contributing to homelessness. We are deeply thankful to bill sponsors Representative Emily Alvarado and Senator Yasmin Trudeau and the many legislators who support rent stabilization, which received an historic majority vote to pass out of the House. If lawmakers fail to act to prevent excessive rent increases, they will have failed to make significant progress toward solving our housing and homelessness crisis. Rising rent has a domino effect, causing impossible choices for renters who are skipping medication, deciding which bill doesn’t get paid, and struggling to pay for essentials like food, heat and transportation. New supply of affordable housing will take years. Renters are being displaced with nowhere to go today.”

“Housing costs” were cited as the top priority for legislative action cited by voters and hundreds of state and local elected leaders. Nearly 40% of Washingtonians rent their home. Excessive rent increases are creating waves of economic evictions in nearly every community across Washington state. Median rent in Washington state increased 34% between 2001 and 2019.

HB 2114, sponsored by Representative Emily Alvardo would prevent landlords from issuing excessive rent increases. Referred to as “one of the most closely watched housing bills in the country,” in New York Times coverage, the bill has received broad and diverse support from tenants, landlords, realtors, local business owners, and editorial boards alike. The amended version of the bill would allow landlords to increase rent on current tenancies up to 7% every 12 months, set rents at whatever they want for new tenancies, and exempt new rental housing units for 10 years after occupancy. 

At every hearing on the measures, supporters of rent stabilization have far outnumbered critics. Legislators have heard personally from thousands of tenants who have been impacted by excessive rent hikes, many who have been displaced, and some who have even been pushed into homelessness. 

Edward R. King Jr of Bellingham who owned and operated The Little Cheerful Cafe in Bellingham Whatcom shared: “When I had to stop working as a result of my MS and related health challenges, I moved into an apartment community where my mother lived. The rent increased from $750 in 2015 to $1700 in 2023. When I couldn’t keep up, and there were no options I could afford, I moved into my car. Thankfully after eight years on the low income housing wait list I have found a place. Today, I’m paying 60% of my income, $800 for 540 square feet.”

Tina Hammond of Spokane urged Senate leaders to bring the bill to a vote: “We can’t survive another year of these rent increases, we’re pleading for help.”

Soaring rent prices and rent increases are destabilizing communities, and having a disproportionate impact on people of color. Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color are overrepresented as renters. Inaction to address rent gouging will increase racial inequities, further harming Washingtonians who experience systemic barriers to achieving stability.

U.S. Census Pulse Survey shows that nearly 500,000 Washingtonians felt pressure to move between May and October 2023 due to a rent increase. Of those nearly 60% were displaced by the rent increases. Wages for hundreds of thousands of working families in Washington aren't keeping up with rent. In fact numerous studies have shown you’d have to work nearly 80 hours a week to afford a 1 bedroom rental earning minimum wage.

Additional background on the measures and the context of the problem is available here. To talk with impacted landlords, tenants, and affordable housing advocates, please contact Rob Huff at (253) 229-5769



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