What’s in Seattle ‘Renting Crisis’ report

Progressive Seattle City Council members unveiled a pair of bills Thursday they say will help protect average residents looking for housing in Seattle’s cutthroat rental market. District 3 representative Kshama Sawant is proposing new legislation to limit move-in costs and “ease moving barriers” for Seattle renters. A measure from District 1 rep Lisa Herbold seeks to prevent landlords from turning down prospective tenants due to their source of income.

To put a finer point on the need for their proposals, the council members were joined by members of Washington Community Action Network, an advocacy organization working on housing justice, who released a ‘Renting Crisis’ report on the challenges faced by renters in Seattle.

Of the 303 renters surveyed, 95% rated housing as unaffordable, more than 70% said poor housing conditions were negatively impacting their health, and the report indicated that minority and LGBTQ tenants were more likely to experience problems with the conditions of their rental units and resulting health problems.

Almost 90% of respondents said that the biggest barrier to moving into more affordable housing was the prohibitively expensive up-front fees a landlord can charge a new tenant.

“Housing affordability in Seattle is an LGBTQ issue, is a race issue, is a class issue,” said Gender Justice League co-chair Yani Robinson. Robinson spoke at the WCAN July 21 press conference announcing the results of its report. Residential and commercial renters, representatives of several community organizations, District 3 representative Kshama Sawant, and District 1 representative Lisa Herbold were also in attendance.

WCAN conducted an online survey of Seattle renters in April 2016 to investigate the following questions:

  1. Are most tenants in the city able to access housing affordable within their income?
  2. Are most tenants able to access healthy housing? If not, how does unhealthy housing impact public health?
  3. What barriers prevent low-income tenants of the city from accessing healthy, affordable housing?
  4. In what ways does the experience of renting in Seattle differ by race, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or the source of income paid by tenants?

The report was co-written by WCAN’s Margaret Diddams and Xochitl Maykovich. The survey was open to participation from anyone, but the organization says it conducted “targeted outreach to neighborhood groups and groups organized around issues impacting people of color and women” in order to obtain a respondent group that reflected the demographics of low to moderate-income Seattle tenants. The report does not include which neighborhoods respondents come from, but Diddams said that many survey participants were from South Seattle.

Maykovich said that despite the small sample size, she did not think a broader study was necessary. “Cities and organizations like to study things they already know,” said Maykovich. “What the city should do is take action to solve these problems.”

“Seattle tenants face an unprecedented renting crisis” requiring government intervention, the report concludes, and makes nine policy recommendations:

  1. Residential developments should be required to have “a reasonable number” of units for renters with incomes of 50% and 30% AMI and below.
    The city should have a one-for-one replacement policy for affordable housing units.
  2. Rent stabilization rules should be put in place for every rental property, and rent increases should be tied to “the cost of inflation, actual cost of building improvements, and tax increases.”
  3. The city should strengthen the Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance by placing landlords who fail a health and safety inspection on a stricter inspection schedule and making it so that a health and safety violation of one unit triggers inspection of all units in the building.
  4. The city should expand the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, which protects tenants from retaliation for filing complaints, to all tenants rather than just those renting month-to-month.
  5. There should be a ban on discrimination against those using alternative sources of income, such as social security or rental housing assistance, to pay their rent. The report claims that people of color, people with disabilities, seniors, and women “disproportionately rely on alternative sources of income…to pay for their rent.”
  6. Tenant-Landlord education needs to be increased; enforcement of the ban on discrimination by landlords depends on tenant action, and many tenants are unaware of their current rights.
  7. There should be no bans against prospective tenants who have been charged with or convicted of a crime.
  8. Landlords should not be able to take into account evictions, foreclosures, or credits scores older than two years when deciding whether or not to rent to a tenant.
  9. Up-front move in costs should be limited, as move in costs can be prohibitively expensive to tenants whose income does allow them to pay the monthly rent.

WCAN threw its support behind Sawant’s proposed legislation to cap move-in costs for renters, but representatives said it was not enough. “The move-in costs are really a stop-gap,” said Diddams. Sawant said that she may propose more legislation once she has a chance to study the report.

WCAN representatives said the city needs to invest more money in affordable housing development, but were unsure of where the money for that investment should come from. “We didn’t look specifically into the where, so that’s a big question,” said Maykovich; she suggested housing bonds and statewide income tax as two possible locations.

“If the city is able to invest in a task force on homelessness, they can invest in a solution,” said Diadems.

Seattles Renting Crisis WCAN

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36 thoughts on “What’s in Seattle ‘Renting Crisis’ report

  1. I take issue with WCAN’s #7 policy recommendation. Surely a landlord should have the right to refuse to rent to a convicted felon. That’s what background checks are for. Are we to do away with that long-established procedure?

  2. Yet again Premier Sawant wants to “stick it” to landlords assuming that the renter is always right. What about irresponsible renters that damage units? What about ex-felons that commit anew (which is most times the case)? What about a history of bad financial decisions leading to a future of bad financial decisions?

    For all of her talk of helping renters, what she will do is burden responsible renters with the cost of paying for the conduct of bad renters. Landlords will simply adjust their rents or other considerations to account for the cost of doing business. Just like how I don’t show up at a union headquarters and ask their leadership to cut their salaries in half for the “good of the people”, I find it sick and insulting that Bolsheviks like Sawant assume they can dictate how all economic behavior (social behavior at the end of the day) should be conducted.

    Unintended consequences will follow any policy of our “people’s leader” leaving the “people” probably worse off than before.

  3. I “work incredibly hard to stay sober” too. Where is my free handout?

    Where is our country going when people that contribute nothing expect everything?

    • Yep, up everyday at 4:45AM. Would I rather sleep in til noon and then start drinking? Of course I would. Who wouldn’t?

    • This is a typical strawman, because that’s not at all what the person you’re quoting is saying. But if that’s what helps keep you feeling smug and superior and angry, that all people struggling are doing so entirely due to the their own personal failings and contribute nothing to society, well… good for you.

    • Someone always ends up paying extra, whether it’s property owners through the affordable housing levy, or landlords through not being able to screen and charge enough fees to cover the risks of bad renters, to keep certain people in the neighborhood who can’t stay on their own (even when they are, in many cases, already receiving subsidies through section 8 or disability payments).

      I’d love someone to explain the unique value these folks bring to the community that justifies all the costs to the rest of us in keeping them there instead of someone who could pay their own way. Seriously, someone whose big accomplishment is staying sober or having four kids she can’t afford to support – how do these people make my life so much better that I need to pay and pay to have them as neighbors?

    • @Not getting why we want to do this

      My tax dollars go to services that are utilized by people like yourself, which I find more offensive than those taxes contributing to social programs for people with actual special needs. So why should I support you?

    • I have an idea. How about the people that want to donate to charities that subsidize people’s housing do so. I have causes that I find to be more important than providing housing to a welfare recipient in one of the most expensive cities in the country. Perhaps the welfare recipient can move somewhere where they do not drain so many resources.

      I will donate towards causes such as rainforest preservation and curing deadly diseases that help a far greater amount of people.

      Or I can take the route that many feel is acceptable in this city and force other people to give to my cause of choice regardless of how inefficient and unjust it is.

      I particularly like the comment questioning what these people that we are paying for actually bring to the table. Some people might call that thought insensitive but I call it legitimate. After all, why does anybody work hard if some among us get the same result by working less or not at all.

  4. “Are most tenants in the city able to access housing affordable within their income?”

    “…but the organization says it conducted “targeted outreach to neighborhood groups and groups organized around issues impacting people of color and women” in order to obtain a respondent group that reflected the demographics of low to moderate-income Seattle tenants.”

    so then the study doesn’t reflect “most tenants” but reflects a specific demographic that sawant and wcan decided to twist into representing a broader group.

    i would like to see this study re-done with a broader public outreach.

  5. I find it really disheartening to read some of these comments that assume because I am struggling to remain in my community that I somehow have less value and am seeking a handout. Here’s the reality:
    1. I’m employed full-time in a professional capacity currently making less than half of Seattle’s median income
    2. I’ve lived in my neighborhood for 16+ years and in my current apartment for 6 years – this is my HOME and my COMMUNITY
    3. My rent has increased by more than 60% in the past 4 years.
    4. My income has increased by 3%

    I don’t believe that it is unreasonable to have some protections in place that will help to allow hard-working members of a community REMAIN in the community. To assume that all who struggle must be unemployed free-loaders is a dangerous fallacy – it’s quite simply not true.

    I, for one, am glad to see that Seattle’s rental crisis (because it IS a crisis) is finally being addressed. While I may not agree with all of the proposed solutions to the issue, I think it’s a very important first step to addressing the problem. To discount the ideas entirely simply because you don’t agree with Sawant on principle is ludicrous and short-sighted.

    • i don’t disagree with you on the discussion piece, @yourneighbor. however, i do have an issue with is sawant and wcan claiming a crisis to all renters; based on a survey of 303 people. who were likely, hand-picked by the agency running the survey.

      is there a group of residents in seattle that needs help? yes, i believe there are; same as any large city but to outline a blanket policy of restrictions for ALL landlords, no matter if that landlord owns a single apartment or a 500+ unit behemoth, is foolish and reactionary.

      sawant is playing for the headlines and her policies are such that they could hurt people who need to cover their own costs. what the discussion needs to be is, how do we, as a community, create a source of support that helps lift up those people, like yourself, who need legitimate help; without creating a negative impact/burden on the small property owner.

    • Disheartening indeed, @yourneighbor. You sound strong enough though to stay solid in the face of some of these heartless comments. I hope we as a city can make changes that help support you and the many others like you in your housing struggles.

    • I understand your pain. But many of us readers, and your neighbors do not feel that the answer is to force a landlord to make up for your low income by giving you charity. That is in essence what would be the outcome of an owner, who can rent out their units for X, which you claim to not afford, for say 70% of X. That would be thousands of dollars a year as a gift to you and others like you. Your logic of feeling entitled to stay ‘in your community’ might mean that your employer must pay you enough to pay a normal rent. Or perhaps your wealthier friends should subsidize you.

      I don’t know you but I bet if we chatted about your history, we would learn about the many choices you made in life that cause this challenge. Perhaps the major in college, to live alone, to come to Seattle, to choose a particular employer.

      In the end, life throws curveballs. God forbid you might need to move to Greenwood and save a few hundred dollars. Or a second job, or a new career, or a roommate in shared housing.

      Seriously, you have a 1st world problem that I am sure is a source of pain for you, but which you will figure out how to solve. Asking for handouts from strangers is not going to cut it.

  6. Simple fact, more peoplea re moving her etc take high paying jobs and due to geography, there are limited areas with limited housing surrounding amazon.com for example in slu. Simple supply and demand means people will compete (prices will go up) for those areas and the effect will also cause areas further out (the central district, etc.) to go up as more people with higher pay fight to get good locations and living spaces in them.

    This is the result of adding high paying industry in a limited geographical area. The same reason it can be $4000 to get an apartment in San Francisco new to all the tech startups and facebook.

  7. Why is it that a certain segment of CHS readers are fine saying “living in a particular place is not a right, if you can’t afford it move”, but then complain about the costs and burden on property owners? If the same logic applies, and letting in Seattle is too expensive or too big a burden, shouldn’t you just sell the property? After all, operating as a landlord in a specific place isn’t a right either.

    • Your correct, it isn’t a right. However if I invested in a property to live in with a rental unit attached to help me meet the costs the government should not be able to artificially decrease my income and make the property unaffordable to remain.

      Further more, If I chose to invest in rental property the government should not be permitted to come in and set my rents to restrict my profit margin. Doing so limits ones ability to maintain the property and see a return on the investment. Remove those incentives and why would anyone rent property at all?

    • That’s exactly the phenomena you see in San Francisco, with older people who sacrificed to buy rental units many years ago having to rent them long-term to rich techies for a fraction of their market value — and who are unable to even afford the upkeep because they can’t charge enough.

      One of my friends retired from Apple a few years ago with millions of bucks — in a small part accumulated by living in rent controlled housing while pulling in $500K/year.

      This report captures a relevant subset of the renters, but it’s not the only one we need to cater to, or whose needs need to be considered.

      (Personally if we’re ever “stabilizing” rent, you bet I’ll be moving between my different units every few years and kicking out tenants — or whatever it takes for the rent to get legally reset.)

    • @food4thought, @RealityBroker – I’n not talking about rent control specifically, just the proposed measure to limit move in costs. Funny that’s what you automatically jumped to though. What, exactly, about limiting move in costs would impact your profit margin? Asking for first and last months rent shouldn’t affect that, so your either referring to the possibility of lost income should something happen (statistically, how likely?), or an nonrefundable security deposit. If you’re making a significant enough profit off of an security deposit, then all the more reason for this legislation.

      Additionally, @RealityBroker, what legislation in San Francisco is forcing owners to rent at below market rates? Your vaguely threatening “solution” to the fantasy of stabilized rent rings a little too “I got mine, screw everyone else” for my taste.

      What is materially different between someone who sacrificed to afford a house in the past that can’t afford the cost of keeping it now, to someone who is currently sacrificing to rent and can’t afford the cost? Why is one more deserving than the other?

    • @mmmdumplings

      I didn’t sacrifice and literally live off of $5/day for years in order to be able to provide someone else with housing subsidized on my back. The difference between charging fair market rent and a government controlled rent is the difference between my having the well-deserved retirement income from my own sacrifice, and not. I didn’t sacrifice for years to be giving away housing for half of market price. At that point, I’d probably just sell the building or convert it into a luxury single-family home and call it a day.

      Also, to your question: “What is materially different between someone who sacrificed to afford a house in the past that can’t afford the cost of keeping it now, to someone who is currently sacrificing to rent and can’t afford the cost?”

      Sure – the first case is someone being prevented by government regulation from earning what is rightfully theirs, vs. the latter is someone who is asking for artificial government intervention to enable them to have what isn’t.

    • P.S. Also, someone who can’t afford the rent typically can do stuff like:

      – get roommates
      – get a cheaper apartment a mile or two away
      – move to South Seattle and suffer the 20 minutes on light rail

  8. How come they never talk about home owners getting priced out by increased property taxes and all the levies that keep adding up. How about a cut in property taxes?

    • It has to do with private ownership vs. socialism’s view of collective (or cooperative) property.

      For people that agree with Sawant’s point of view, private ownership shouldn’t exist, so owners getting priced out by increased property taxes and all the levies don’t matter.

  9. @mmmdumplings

    think of it this way, the company you work for is having a hard time selling its widgets. it complains to the city that it cannot afford to stay in business. the city says, “okay, then only pay your employees half what you normally do and you can pay the rest in 10% installments over the next few years.”

    through no fault of your own, you are being financially penalized because of the market forces impacting your employer. and instead of the government digging into its social support funding to find a way to help out your employer, they are forcing you to be the solution to your employer’s problems.

    now replace you with landlords and your employer with a certain segment of renters. as i said above; i don’t disagree that there are people in our community that need a helping hand. but we should use our tax-funded social services to find a solution. NOT put the burden solely on rental property owners.

    • @zeebleoop but that’s not really a great analogy, is it? Not having last month’s rent upfront is only a loss to a landlord’s profit margin if the tenant never pays it. Do you really think this is a chronic problem? Do you really believe all renters are so eager to cheat “the man” that now everyone won’t pay last month’s rent if given the option of paying in installments? In this rental market, I’m sure most people are trying to minimize any circumstance that might lead to an unhappy landlord and their lease not being renewed.

      What tax-funded social services should we be using? Sounds like Section 8 vouchers aren’t exactly working for everyone if landlords can refuse to take them.

      In my renting experience in Seattle, I’ve lived in multiple places owned by small property owners – some of them have been fantastic, and others have been downright horrible and abusive. For me, the difference between my lovely landlords and my horrible ones was that the lovely ones took a more “glass half full” approach than operating from a defensive stance that renters are just out to screw over landlords and their investment properties in any way possible

    • @mmmdumplings

      it’s actually a pretty good analogy but you just want to be argumentative. how can a landlord be making a profit on last month’s rent? are they charging last month’s rent again, the last month a renter is there?

      how likely is it someone will stiff a landlord? how chronic of a problem is it? i don’t know. but given the fact that the vast majority of landlords, of properties big and small, across the country, have a policy of first, last and security, i have to believe that it’s a common enough occurrence to dictate making such requests of renters.

      maybe one day you’ll actually own something that you have enough pride in that you’ll want to protect what you have.

  10. @Data Driven – you are absolutely disgusting. How did you end up here in Seattle? Your kind is what is bringing the city’s spirit to crap. Anyone born anywhere has a natural given RIGHT to feel “entitled” to LIVE where they were born. How about we kick out people like you who do not belong here; people like you who are destroying this city; people like you who give no value to the human race.

    • We can agree to disagree respectfully, but personal attacks are unhelpful. Would you tell me to my face, a person you have never met – that I bring no value to the human race. Really, you are out of line and owe me an apology on these pages. Our respective screen names likely reflect some of our differences. I have lived in this city since 1978 and on the Hill since about 1985. If seniority mattered in terms of who gets to live here, there would be no housing issue and a significant number of people ranting on this topic, as well as Sawant would not be relevant or present. It does not work that way. I remember around 2008, a relatively empty Pike Street with no traffic to speak of and vacancies galore. How things have changed in less than a decade, in ways I have never seen in Seattle. I don’t want to out myself but suffice it to say that I have had my kids here, employ dozens in the city at living wages, have been in the trenches of working with the disadvantaged, pay in the six figures annually in state and local taxes, and contribute in the 6 figures to local non-profits in the arts and social services. So I think I have earned a seat at the table and am not the problem here. And if I suddenly disappeared from the Hill, your apparent problem with me would be addressed but the housing challenge would remain unchanged. People come here because of the availability of jobs in some cases, the natural setting for others, and the community assets for some – such as arts, culture and the like. I am proud of contributing to the first and last.

      I suppose there are 3 solutions to the housing crisis: fewer people seeking housing or more housing available. Folks are competing for limited resources, driving up the cost. Regulating the terms and price of existing housing will only privilege some at the expense of others and not increase the ability for people to find a place to live. You and I do not control how many people live here or come here, though Detroit, Cleveland and Baltimore beckon with both jobs and cheap housing, and some very nice people. Absent that, it really leaves more housing and that is obviously hotly debated terms of density, infrastructure and the like. Telling private owners how much they may charge or who they may rent to is about as likely as pigs flying or you getting to tell your local tavern how much they may charge for a drink.

      We live in a free market and system where prices are set by the market. This is the same market that likely led the majority of people to Seattle in w first place. There are plenty of lovely places in the US where housing is cheap and available but there is a deficit of ways to earn a living or entertain oneself in one’s spare time. I know that raising the presence of the free market is anathema to those who prefer magic solutions, but I have seen the alternative, in places like the Soviet Union and Cuba – and read about the desperate situation in Venezuela, and believe me, you would be miserable with those alternatives.

  11. @Data Driven

    So nowhere in my comment did I say or even hint that I expect charity and/or a handout. What I actually said is 1) this is a conversation that needs to happen and it’s about time it’s being addressed, and 2) it seems that people are drawing some very false assumptions about the demographic affected by the rising rents and shortage of housing currently facing Seattle.

    As for my life choices, they are definitely none of your business and I don’t regret my career choice at all. I purposely chose a path wherein I can make a meaningful difference, and unfortunately in this world that does go hand-in-hand with a lower pay grade. However, that actually used to be a sustainable choice in Seattle before the recent influx of jobs and resultant housing shortage.

    I don’t expect pity. I don’t expect a free ride or a hand out. I am adding a second job to my already 40+ hour work week to supplement my own income because I have that option and ability.

    What I expect is for people to open their eyes and realize that these are not freeloaders and people who “abuse the system” who are being forced out of Seattle. These are the people who have chosen to work in your hospitals and in your schools. I don’t believe it’s unreasonable to plan for a larger number of affordable housing units in order to keep this very vital work force within the city. I don’t believe the plan that’s being proposed is perfect. But I DO believe that it’s important and should not be discounted as a whole simply because you don’t feel like the burden falls upon you to maintain Seattle’s diversity.

  12. I’m going to assume that the people who are bashing Sawant’s affordable housing proposals hold their narrow-minded and presumptuous views (i.e., “work hard, save your money, you made your life choices now live with them”) because of their own limited and privileged life experiences. A society is judged on how they treat their most vulnerable citizens, which includes senior citizens and public servants on fixed incomes, the mentally, physically and/or emotionally disabled, and low skilled workers. This whole pull yourself up by the bootstraps mentality is, frankly, sickening to me in its ignorance. I hope the so-called slackers, shirkers and entitled neer-do-wells come after you someday with pitchforks. Get your smug face out of your smartphone and start interacting with your neighbors, and not just the ones down the hall from your $2,400 one-bedroom with roof garden and gym bastion. Have some gratitude that your hard work paid off for you.

  13. It seems the cost of buying a home in Seattle is not related to the cost of inflation so why should rent be? If you are currently buying a home for investment property and an average home is $660,000. it needs to pencil out. If you want to regulate make the cost of buying a home less.

  14. I actually pretty much agree with everything @Data Driven said and surprise surprise Seattle, there is a large (and growing) population of us that feel the same sentiment.

    I work hard and a lot, and have had to sacrifice a lot to get to where I am. I am tired of feeling like my effort, instead of being praised, is being admonished by continuously higher taxes, homeless people breaking into my building’s trash area to shoot up, graffiti every where, constant harassment by pan handlers, more and more tents going up in fenced areas leaving trash and needles everywhere.

    I love this city. I love my neighborhood. I am tired of continuously paying into social programs that supplement hard work or accountability. I think a lot of people who would take advantage of this rental legislation are not going to be good neighbors, are not going to be appreciative of their benefit at other people’s expense. No. I never voted for Sawant and another one of her bad ideas.

    • That you can’t see how you benefit from your privilege is kind of your problem. Your opportunities are only available to some people, not all people.

      But even if you don’t believe in privilege, you also are failing to see how your ability to live a comfortable life due to your hard work is due, in large part, to a stable society. A stable society is only possible if everyone is able to take care of the people who are unable to live a similarly comfortable life. We have seen more and more people de-stabilizing society because people like you stopped caring and got angry at their perceived failings instead of showing compassion. Get you more up-in-arms about sharing your good fortune than you do about the reasons people are falling behind. You’re so obsessed with the narrative of your own success that you’ve become unable to see how much the world has changed since you were able to make it to the top by merely working harder. People have never worked harder in the history of this country, in aggregate, and for what? The houses everyone used to be able to afford with an entry level job are only available to the moneyed, and the rents are a higher percentage of income than they’ve ever been, and healthcare is a complete disaster.

      But no, it’s all the failings of individuals, not a rigged system.

    • I take issue with your statement that health care is a “complete disaster.” Yes, it could be better, but it has improved significantly under Obamacare. Now, if we can just get a single payer system…

    • Bob, you’re right that it’s better under Obamacare, but it’s still possible to be bankrupted through no fault of your own, just because you had an accident or a crazy medical crisis.

      A friend of mine got some incredibly rare form of brain cancer and has had to take a leave of absence from work (losing thousands in income), needs daycare for her kids (which costs a couple grand per month), and is looking at tens of thousands in medical bills that insurance won’t cover. She had to turn to a gofundme to avoid being completely bankrupted.

      And my retired father has had the audacity to live longer than Medicare expected, after a particularly difficult (and dangerous) procedure, so they are no longer going to pay for his home healthcare, which is now going to eat into what’s remaining of retirement. And he comes from a generation that had all manner of social protections from their companies that fewer and fewer people have anymore (multiple pensions, matching 401Ks, etc.). If he’s able to make it another year, he may end up exhausting his retirement.

    • I’m sorry about your friend’s serious cancer, but I don’t understand how she could have “tens of thousands” in bills that her insurance won’t cover. She must have some kind of a bare bones policy. But even those with high deductibles usually don’t owe more than $5-10,000, which is bad enough. If she has no income, she should qualify for Medicaid (free) and that is very good coverage.

      Yes, private home health care for seniors is very expensive. Because of that fact, it unfortunately is not realistic that Medicare cover it…there is simply not enough money available to do that for everyone, over extended periods of time. If your father does exhaust his retirement savings, he could probably go on Medicaid and move to a retirement facility, where he would only have to pay any fixed income (social security) that he has.

  15. 1) “Why should we support ex-felons?”
    Because no one deserves to be homeless. And because assuming all ex-felons will recommit is unfair. Also, much of the time, when recidivism does occur, it’s because the person must do so to survive (you know, because people decided they didn’t deserve a job or a place to live)

    2) “I don’t want my tax dollars to go to this!”
    That’s irrelevant. Once your money leaves your pocket, it’s no longer yours. The government can do with it what it pleases. If you buy a soda, you can’t then tell the shop keeper how he has to spend your dollar.

    3) “Why don’t they just rely on charities/Section 8”
    Those are very hard to actually get. Section 8 benefits have a waiting list several years long. No exaggeration. I have three friends on said list – one has been waiting for two years, and the others for three. And charities don’t have the millions of dollars necessary to cover the astronomical rent demanded of every lower income person in this city.

    4) “Why should we support someone who’s only accomplishment is staying sober or having 4 kids?”
    First, because staying sober is actually a pretty significant accomplishment, especially if you’re homeless. And secondly, because relegating four children to living on the street because you disagree with their mother’s choices is a pretty awful thing to do…

    5) “If they can’t afford Seattle, why don’t they just move??”
    I, for one, was born here. You want me to leave behind everything I’ve ever known because I’m poor? Only the well-off deserve to live here?
    You’re entitled to your opinion, but that’s pretty harsh.
    We’re not asking for much – just affordable housing that won’t give us chronic health issues. It’s a simple request, and one that I feel is fair to ask. Yet everyone in the lower tax brackets have to fight hard for these basic needs.
    You are all entitled to think however you like, but I encourage you, rather than raining down judgement while in your warm, dry apartment, try to imagine what it’s like for that not to be guaranteed.