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Prevent Evictions and Homelessness in Washington During this Legislative Session

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January 20, 2021

Honorable members of the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives,

You have an extraordinary opportunity and obligation this legislative session to prevent a significant increase in homelessness and housing insecurity. Washington is at a crossroads; at any given time since the beginning of the pandemic recession, well over 100,000 renters have been unable to pay rent. A sufficient off-ramp from the eviction moratorium must be implemented before it expires. Census Bureau data from mid-December found that over 175,000 Washington renters were behind in rent and over 387,000 renters who are current on rent report that they had to use credit cards and other unsustainable methods to meet their basic needs in the last 7 days.

The Washington State Department of Commerce estimates that $100 million in rental assistance is needed per month in order to meet the great need. The approximately $500 million in federal rental assistance will significantly help address the rental arrears that have already accumulated, but it will be critical for the state to fill the gap and to create a longer term solution to assist the households that will continue to need rental assistance for the months and years to come.

The real estate market is booming while thousands are unable to pay rent. This is a stark illustration of the growing inequality resulting from the pandemic. Many economists describe a “K-shaped” recovery, meaning that there are a significant number of people who are not only impacted worse, but who will also not experience the recovery until a much-prolonged date. Those at the top of the “k” are financially in the same position that they were before the pandemic or doing better. Those at the bottom are the renter households who will need rental assistance and legal protections to keep a roof over their heads. These households were not well off before the pandemic and many were already paying higher rents than they could afford, significantly impacting opportunities to save for a rainy day. These same households disproportionately experienced illness, reductions in hours, unemployment, or increased costs for medical bills, childcare, and basic needs such as food and internet. Washington’s households are hurting, and this pandemic has not hit equally.

Households of color have been disproportionately impacted for a number of reasons. Systemic racism has driven down wages and prevented access to homeownership opportunities for communities of color, leaving expensive rental housing as the only option for many. For example, statewide, Black households are twice as likely as white households to be renters. On top of this, Black and Latinx households have been more impacted both by illness from COVID-19 and by the economic downturn. Households of color, especially Black and Native American households, were at much greater risk of homelessness even before the pandemic. For example, a 2018 report on homelessness in Pierce County found that Black/African Americans represent 26.3% of those needing homelessness assistance, despite making up only 6.6% of the general population. Additionally, statewide student homelessness data has consistently shown that students of color disproportionately experience homelessness. For example, 1 in 11 Black students experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, with Native American/Indigenous students also experiencing startlingly high rates.

In order to prevent a significant increase in homelessness and inequity - while not forgetting the pre COVID-19 affordable housing and homelessness crisis - the undersigned organizations urge you to take bold and swift action on the following investments and protections that together will build a safety-net to help Washington’s renters keep a roof over their heads. Rental assistance alone will not prevent evictions – we must ensure that landlords have a legitimate business reason to make tenants move and that tenants with a valid legal defense don’t unfairly lose their home because of a confusing and intimidating legal process that is impossible to navigate without help.

  • Pass HB 1236/Macri providing Just Cause eviction protections to outlaw 20-day no cause notices and require a legitimate business reason to evict.
  • Pass SB 5160/Kuderer to make the eviction process fairer by providing access to legal assistance, mediation, and payment plans that will help landlords and tenants address accumulated rental debt.
  • Pass HB 1277/Ormsby, creating a permanent state funded rental assistance and housing stability program with a new $100 document recording fee on real estate related transactions. A permanent, state-funded program is needed to fill the gaps that federal assistance won’t address and to meet long-term rental assistance needs that are building across the state.
  • Adopt Governor Jay Inslee’s Biennial and Supplemental Operating and Capital Budget investments in affordable housing and homelessness.

The undersigned 195 organizations thank you for your commitment to the above priorities.

350 Seattle

Seattle

A Way Home Washington

Seattle

ACLU Burien People Power

Burien

ACLU-WA

Seattle

Alki United Church of Christ

West Seattle

Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition

Statewide

Arlington United Church

Arlington/Snohomish County

Asian American Pacific Coalition of Spokane

Spokane

Asian Counseling and Referral Service

Seattle

Associated Ministries

Tacoma/Pierce County

Associated Students of Western Washington

Bellingham

Association of Manufactured Home Owners

Mount Vernon

Atlantic Street Center

Seattle/King County

Be:Seattle

Seattle

Blankets to the Streets

Tukwila/King County

Building Changes

Statewide

Byrd Barr Place

Seattle/King County

Campion Advocacy Fund

Seattle

Catholic Charities Eastern Washington

Spokane/Eastern Washington

Catholic Community and Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington

Western Washington

Catholic Community Services

King County

Center for Children & Youth Justice

Seattle

Center for Dialog & Resolution

Pierce County

Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council

Wenatchee

Children's Campaign Fund

Statewide

Christian Aid Center

Walla Walla

Citizens Against Domestic & Sexual Abuse, CADA

Oak Harbor/Island County

City of Kent

Kent

City of Seattle

Seattle

Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence

Seattle/King County

Columbia Legal Services

Statewide

Community Life Foundation

Kent/South King County

Conscious Talk Radio

Port Townsend

Corporation for Supportive Housing

Seattle

Council for the Homeless

Clark County

DESC

Seattle/King County

Disability Rights Washington

Statewide

Dispute Resolution Center of King County

Seattle

Downtown Emergency Service Center

Seattle

Eagle’s Nest Community Kitchen

Kent

Eastside for All

East King County

Eastside Interfaith Gathering

East King County

El Centro de la Raza

Seattle

Enterprise Community Partners

Seattle

Equity in Education Coalition

Statewide

Faith Action Network

Seattle

Family Community Services

Spokane

FamilyWorks

Seattle

FareStart

Seattle

Firelands Workers Action / Accion de Trabajadores

Grays Harbor/Pacific County

Food Lifeline

Western Washington

Frye Apartments

Seattle

Futurewise

Seattle

Good Nature Publishing

Seattle/King County

Greater Spokane Progress

Spokane

Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County

King County/Kittitas County

Han Bao Art

Bothell

Highline Public Schools

Burien

Homage Senior Services

Lynnwood/Snohomish County

Homes and Hope Community Land Trust

Mukilteo

Homes First

Lacey/Thurston/South Puget Sound

Hope N Wellness

Arlington

Housing Resources Bainbridge

Bainbridge Island/Kitsap County

Housing Solutions Network

Jefferson County

Immanuel Lutheran Church

Vancouver

Indivisible Plus Washington

Statewide

Interfaith Works

Olympia/Thurston County

InterIm CDA

Seattle/Puget Sound

International Community Health Services

King County

International IFC

Seattle

Issaquah Sammamish Interfaith Coalition

Issaquah

JACL, Seattle Chapter

Seattle/King County

Jefferson County Immigration Rights advocates

Jefferson County

Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle

Seattle

Just Housing Olympia

Olympia

Just One (If You Could Save Just One)

Spokane

Kahs In Kol Ministry

Kent

Kent Community Foundation

Kent

Kent Community Partners

Kent/King County

Keystone UCC

Seattle

Keystone UCC/Faith Action Network

Seattle

King County Bar Association

Seattle

King County Promotores Network

Renton

King County Young Democrats

King County

Lake City Taskforce on Homelessness

Seattle/King County

Legal Counsel for Youth and Children

King/Benton/Franklin/Walla Walla Counties

LGBTQ Allyship

Seattle

Living Well Kent

Kent

Lopez Community Land Trust

Lopez Island/San Juan County

Low Income Housing Institute

Seattle/King County

League of Women Voters Kitsap

Kitsap County

Madrona Community Development SPC

Whatcom Region

Marshallese Women Association

King County

MDC - Metropolitan Development Council

Tacoma/Pierce County

Medzed

Spokane

Mission Gathering Christian Church

Issaquah/King County

NAACP

Vancouver

NAMI Washington

Seattle

National Assoc of Social Workers WA Chapter

Statewide

National Association of Social Workers - WA Chapter

Seattle

National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW)

Seattle

North Olympic Regional Veteran's Housing Network

Forks

Northwest Fair Housing Alliance

East/Central Washington

Northwest Harvest

Seattle

Northwest Native Development Fund

Coulee Dam

Northwest Progressive Institute

Redmond/King County

OlyCAP

Jefferson County

Olympia Downtown Neighborhood Association

Olympia

Olympia Zen Center

Olympia/Thurston County

Omni-Manna Services

Arlington

OneAmerica

Seattle/Yakima/Vancouver

OPAL Community Land Trust

East Puget Sound

Opportunity Council

Island/San Juan/Whatcom Counties

Orange Child

Snoqualmie/King County

Outsiders Inn

Vancouver

Partners for Our Children

Seattle

Partners for Rural Washington

Bellevue

Pathways to Living Good

Vancouver/Clark County

Peace & Justice Advocates, University Congregational United Church of Christ

Seattle/King County

Peer Navigator Training Program

Spokane

Peninsula Behavioral Health

Port Angeles

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii

Seattle

Plymouth Housing

Seattle/King County

Post-Prison Education Program

Seattle

Quaker Voice on Washington Public Policy

Statewide

Real Change News

Seattle

Rebuilding Together South Sound

Pierce County

Refugee Connections Spokane

Spokane/Spokane County/Inland Northwest

Resident Action Project

Seattle

Retired Public Employees Council of WA

Olympia

Rural Community Assistance Corporation

Washington State

SafePlace

Olympia

Seattle Human Services Coalition

Seattle

Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness

King County

SEIU 925

Statewide

Serenity House of Clallam County

Port Angeles

SHAG Life Foundation

Tukwila

Shalom Ecumenical Center for Affordable Housing

Richland/Benton County

Share

Vancouver/Clark County

Share The Cities

Seattle/King County

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Spokane

SKY Urban Empowerment and Transformation Center

Renton

Snohomish County Homeless Policy Task Force

Snohomish County

Social Justice Coordinating Council, Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane

Spokane

Solid Ground

Seattle/King County

Sound Alliance

King and Pierce Counties

Spokane Area Tenants United

Spokane/Spokane County

Spokane Center for Independent Living

Spokane

Spokane Community Against Racism (SCAR)

Spokane

Spokane Democratic Socialists of America

Spokane County/Kootenai County

Spokane Low Income Housing Coalition

Spokane

Spokane Valley Community Advocates

Spokane Valley/Spokane County

Spokane Veterans For Peace

Spokane

St. James Homeless Advocacy Committee

Seattle

Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction

Seattle

Statewide Poverty Action Network

Seattle/King County

Tacoma Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness

Pierce County

Tacoma Pierce County Democratic Socialists of America (TDSA)

Tacoma/Pierce County

Tacoma Pro Bono Community Lawyers

Pierce County

Tacoma Tenants Organizing Committee

Tacoma/Pierce County

Tahoma Community Land Trust

Pierce County

Tenants Union of Washington

Seattle

The Housing Advocacy Coalition of Snohomish County

Everett/Snohomish County

The Justice for Girls Coalition of Washington State

Seattle

The Mockingbird Society

Statewide

Thurston Housing Aland Trust

Olympia

Tacoma Pierce County Health Department

Tacoma

Transit Riders Union

Seattle

Transitional Resources

Seattle/King County

Transitions Home Yard Cottages

Spokane

UNITE HERE Local 8

Statewide

United Peers of Washington

Washington State

United Way of King County

King County

Unity Services

Redmond

Volunteers of America Western Washington Dispute Resolution Center

Everett/Snohomish County

WA Assoc for Children and Families

Kenmore

WA State Community Action Partnership

Statewide

Washington Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival.

Statewide

Washington Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

Gig Harbor

Washington Coalition for Homeless Youth Advocacy

Statewide

Washington Community Action Network

Seattle

Washington Kids in Transition

Lynnwood/Snohomish County

Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility

Seattle/King County

Washington State Budget & Policy Center

Seattle

Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Statewide

Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Seattle

Washington State Society for Clinical Social Work

Seattle

WHEEL

Seattle

Whidbey Homeless Coalition

Island County

Women in Black

Seattle

Youth Action Board of Seattle and King County

King County

Youth Development Executives of King County

King County

YouthCare

Seattle

YWCA

Everett

YWCA Seattle|King|Snohomish

Seattle/King/Snohomish

 

 

 

 

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