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City Council begins work to address Seattle’s eviction problem

86.5% of eviction filings in the study were for nonpayment — more than half of those were for one month or less of unpaid rent (Source: Losing Home report)

Last year, a study of Seattle evictions showed disproportionate impacts to women and Black renters in the city and how evictions are tied to rising levels of homelessness and housing insecurity. In the first step toward working on legislation to address problems around evictions, the Seattle City Council is working on a new Eviction Prevention Resolution hoped to be introduced later this month.

“”I think the way we’ve structured this resolution is to be less focused on the identification of particular solutions, but instead working from the Losing Home report lifting up their identification of the problems and laying out a timeline for the council to work on identifying the solutions necessary to address those problems,” Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee chair Lisa Herbold said Tuesday in a discussion of an early draft of the resolution, below.

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The 2018 report from the Seattle Women’s Commission and the Housing Justice Project showed how many evictions come down to as little as one month of unpaid rent, and that women were more likely to be evicted over small amounts of money and that 51.7% of tenants in eviction filings were people of color — 31.2% were Black tenants, an eviction rate 4.5 times what would be expected based on Seattle’s population. Of the more than 1,200 eviction cases studied, 45% were triggered by a month or less of unpaid rent.

“We have a broader public interest in solving this and not having $2 or $500 shortages in rents resulting in somebody being homeless which is going to cost us thousands of dollars to remedy,” committee member Mike O’Brien said.

The draft resolution is hoped to be finalized and discussed again by the committee at its Friday, January 25th meeting, Herbold said.

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