Eviction Moratorium Spurs Passionate Debate in Seattle

Renter protections are a contentious issue, but that only increases the need for honest and transparent debate.

2 minute read

October 5, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Cascade Creatives / Shutterstock

Katie Wilson writes about the state of the eviction crisis in Washington, where some cities have extended eviction moratoria until January 15, but the statewide moratorium is scheduled to expire at the end of October. In Seattle, 60,000 renters are behind on rent, with three-quarters of that total owing multiple months of rent. While rent relief programs are widespread, they have been slow to distribute funds.

"In times like these, policymaking is high stakes," writes Wilson, before taking umbrage with an article published recently in the Seattle Times opinion pages.

Decisions made in the halls of power affect people’s lives in immediate and profound ways. It’s vitally important to have an open and responsible public discourse about proposed policies and their likely impacts. Unfortunately, the editorial and opinion section of our region’s daily newspaper has chosen to play a less-than-responsible role in this debate.

The paywalled article in question was written by Corey Brewer, a boardmember of a landlord group called the Rental Housing Association, and published in June 2021. "The Seattle Times editorial board piled on a few days later, citing Brewer’s piece and urging Mayor Jenny Durkan to veto three pieces of renter protection legislation just passed by the Seattle City Council," according to Wilson. Wilson responded with a series of pieces digging into the issue (onetwo, and three on renter protections, and a fourth laying out big-picture solutions to the housing crisis. 

On July 23, Brewer wrote another piece in The Seattle Times, which brings us to the current article.

Wilson acknowledges that renter protections are a contentious topic, and allows for a debate to take place, with one big caveat: "Brewer’s piece was rife with errors and distortions."

It misrepresented the conclusions of studies, muddled pre-pandemic with pandemic-era data and conflated the extraordinary eviction moratoriums of the past year and a half with renter protection policies more broadly, among other problems. Some of his statements were merely misleading; others were downright false.

According to Wilson, the editors of Crosscut and The Seattle Times have been engaged in a "drawn-out and fruitless back and forth" over the issue—and other organizations around the region, like the King County Housing Authority, are similarly frustrated.  

Wednesday, September 29, 2021 in Crosscut

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