Eviction Looms for Low-Income Tenants as Rent Debt Rises

Nonprofit housing operators across the country face almost $10 billion in rent debt.

1 minute read

April 23, 2024, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

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In a report for The Seattle Times, Greg Kim highlights the growing crisis facing nonprofit operators of low-income housing in Seattle and around the country. According to Kim, unpaid rent debt in the Seattle area totals roughly $170 million. “The Seattle Housing Authority, a public housing agency, saw a threefold increase in tenants with overdue rent over the last four years, going from 554 tenants at the start of 2019 to 1,784 at the beginning of this year. Currently, about 23% of tenants are behind on rent.”

Now, housing providers face the decision to evict non-paying tenants so that they can continue providing services. “Many housing providers say the amount of overdue rent has grown dramatically since before the pandemic and is hurting their ability to maintain and build more affordable housing in a region and nation that is starved for it.” 

Kim explains that the pandemic hit low-income renters hard in multiple ways. In addition to losing jobs and income, many tenants saw their rent spike in housing where rent costs are tied to median income. “In Seattle and King County, the median income spiked during the pandemic due to ‘very high wage earners skewing the top,’ said Nona Raybern, communications manager at Seattle’s Office of Housing. That resulted in maximum rents increasing by about 36% in the last five years.”

Monday, April 22, 2024 in The Seattle Times

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