Seattle Extends Eviction Moratorium, Struggles to Distribute Rental Assistance

The city's mayor announced an extension to the city's eviction moratorium as millions in emergency rental assistance remain undisbursed.

June 29, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Seattle

SEASTOCK / Shutterstock

Seattle's mayor has announced the extension of the city's eviction moratorium until September 30, reports Daniel Beekman in the Seattle Times. According to Mayor Jenny Durkan, the extension will "ensure [the city] can provide the cash rental assistance and housing support that is critical to stabilizing the community as we reopen." But rental assistance has had a hard time reaching those who need it most, and "Seattle and King County are still in the process of distributing tens of millions of dollars in payments to landlords on behalf of tenants who are behind on rent." 

Of the more than $180 million earmarked for rental assistance in King County, just $38 million has been distributed, while "[a]n estimated 86,500 people, or about 10% of renters, are behind on their rent across the Seattle metro area, which includes Tacoma and Bellevue." And while the federal government has injected unprecedented amounts of money into emergency relief programs, as we reported on May 26, "[g]etting money into the hands of renters has been exceedingly complicated." Tenant advocates worry that lifting moratoriums before relief programs take full effect will disproportionately impact renters of color, who have fallen behind on rent at higher rates than white tenants during the pandemic. According to Michele Thomas, director of policy and advocacy at the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, "[h]olding off on evictions provides time for officials to ramp up assistance mechanisms and gives tenants 'more time to get back in the workforce, get jobs and start saving up to pay back the significant amount of arrears they’ve accumulated.'"

Friday, June 18, 2021 in The Seattle Times

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