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Sawant committee to hold hearing on moratorium on ‘cruel winter evictions’

The Seattle City Council’s Sustainability and Renters’ Rights Committee will hold a public hearing Thursday night on District 3 representative Kshama Sawant’s proposal to ban winter evictions in the city.

The council member representing Capitol Hill and the Central District is urging constituents to “pack City Hall to demand a halt to cruel winter evictions.”

“Every year, hundreds of Seattleites get evicted from their homes – often for owing a month or less in rent,” the message from Sawant’s office reads. “Nearly 9 out of every 10 end up homeless. In the winter, eviction can be a death sentence – nationally, 700 people experiencing homelessness die annually from the effects of hypothermia in U.S. cities, according to the National Coalition for Homelessness.”

CHS reported on Sawant’s proposed “emergency moratorium” in December. The legislation would create an emergency moratorium “effective immediately” by amending Seattle’s Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, a roster of “16 just causes” Seattle landlords are allowed to use to end month-by-month rental agreements.

Sawant says the committee she chairs will take public testimony and then hold a committee vote on her legislation during Thursday’s session (PDF). The Rental Housing Association of Washington opposes the proposal.

Meanwhile, legislation to make it easier to create and move tiny house villages in Seattle will take at least another month to form after a council committee met Wednesday to discuss the proposals but took no action. The homelessness committee isn’t scheduled to meet again until February when a vote could finally be taken on the Sawant-driven proposal needed to replace the city’s current set of rules which expire in March. A special committee meeting may be called to help iron out the legislation before February’s vote. In the meantime, the Central District village at 22nd and Union is in search of a new home and faces a small set of options with locations tied to religious organizations required under the current legislation.


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17 Comments
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Glenn
Glenn
1 year ago

Did you attempt to get comment from the RHA to describe why the organization opposes this proposal? If there is a legitimate organization opposing it I would expect their views to be presented.

candrewb
candrewb
1 year ago
Reply to  Glenn

That’s a good point. Jseattle, what did the RHA say when you contacted them for comment?

Moving On
Moving On
1 year ago

9 out of 10 evicted households becoming homeless is wildly out of line with national stats and stats from other expensive cities (NYC). Wonder where this number comes from? And how is the data even collected?

Would be curious what percent of those crash temporarily with friends/family and then bounce back pretty quickly.

Would also be curious what percentage of these evictions are from subsidized housing (public or non-profit) and whether the rule would apply to them.

TurnCalAndersonIntoADogPark
TurnCalAndersonIntoADogPark
1 year ago

It is truly mind-boggling that this is something we have to fight for.

Changler
Changler
1 year ago

This seems to be the M.O. with every opinion you have.

TurnCalAndersonIntoADogPark
TurnCalAndersonIntoADogPark
1 year ago
Reply to  Changler

Pretty much. The things the ‘radical left’ of Seattle are fighting for like caps on rent increases and modest taxes for big business–and now not evicting people into the cold–should be no-brainers.

It’s should be easy to see why people–myself obviously included–are upset: are we really debating whether or not we should throw people out of their homes in the middle of January? In the middle of homelessness crisis no less?

Glenn your point is a reasonable one, at least for small landlords who could find themselves in a lurch, and I agree with you. But sadly, we’re not debating how to protect mom n’ pop landlords from people abusing the system–we’re debating whether or not we should be dragging the destitute out into the snow, and the distinction is significant.

zeebleoop
zeebleoop
1 year ago
Reply to  Changler

I don’t think we can separate the debate of evicting someone in winter and the financial impact this has on non-corporate rentals.

If you are saying that landlords can’t “drag the destitute out into the snow” (pretty hyperbolic statement BTW but whatever) then you have to say how you will compensate them. You can’t simply rule, no winter evictions without weighing all the consequences.

That’s why this isn’t a “no-brainer” but instead needs to be a well thought out brainer. We shouldn’t be forming regulations based on sound-bite politicking. We need to be thinking about real, implementable solutions that don’t take from one while protecting the other.

RWK
RWK
1 year ago
Reply to  Changler

Well-said, zeebleoop!

By the way, your screen name always makes me smile.

Glenn
Glenn
1 year ago

If you remove the landlord’s contractual and legal right to remove a non-paying tenant for five months, you must compensate the landlord from public funds. This propsal should include a provision allowing quick and transparent compensation to the landlord from public funds in lieu of receiving rent.

HTS3
HTS3
1 year ago

Hmmm. Yes, it does show a great deal of compassion to not kick people out of the places they are renting when it’s cold outside. But I have a feeling that the State of Washington doesn’t care about the weather when they want the property taxes paid on that unit. The contractor who put a new roof on it last fall doesn’t care how cold it is, they want to be paid, now. I think this article could have done a better job of examining the impact on this proposed legislation on ALL people, including the owners. The people owning these properties don’t all live in Palm Springs and stash their money in the Caymans. A lot of them also live here and have families to support—and yes, bills to pay. So how will this impact them and the rental market?

louise
louise
1 year ago
Reply to  HTS3

I love comments like this that bring reality and facts, not emotion, to an issue. Thx.

Danny
Danny
1 year ago
Reply to  louise

We know the facts. We just don’t agree with them. Property tax and property ownership in a dense city is mini-feudalism and you shouldn’t be allowed to profit from land and people. Sky high rents should be illegal. Especially with vacant buildings everywhere that were built with so much public help.

Glenn
Glenn
1 year ago
Reply to  louise

Thank you Danny for stating simply what has become increasingly apparent. Namely, that the activist class in this city, led by Sawant, do not believe a person should be allowed to profit from the ownership of private property. All the rest is just noise.

HTS3
HTS3
1 year ago
Reply to  louise

Interesting, Danny. “Not agreeing with facts.” I thought that this quandary was limited to those on the extreme right, but it appears to be the reality of the extreme left, too.

jonc
1 year ago
Reply to  HTS3

You’re assuming people wouldn’t pay with this grace period. I don’t think very many would follow this track, and accumulate back rent to be faced with a large bill in the Spring, as well as an eviction notice.

Glenn
Glenn
1 year ago
Reply to  jonc

Let’s spin out a different scenario. Assume a tenant is paying their rent. Now envision she is a difficult tenant who regularly engages in disturbing behavior that violates her rental agreement. This behavior also negatively effects her neighboring tenants, places fellow residents at risk, and presents a clear risk to the property.
Under normal circumstances a landlord would exercise eviction (after other efforts fail to curb the behavior) to remove the tenant from the property. Doing so would protect other tenants, their quality of life, and the property generally.
As I understand it, this proposal would remove eviction as an option from November 1 to March 31. How is a landlord to effectively address these types of issues under this proposal?

Adam
Adam
1 year ago

So, if someone stops paying their rent in October you can’t kick them out until the Spring? So the landlord is basically expected to rent to this person for free for half the year?

Yeah…I’m sure that risk and cost won’t get factored into everyone else’s rents.

It’s hilarious that in a city with an affordability crisis, our local government seems hell-bent on things that make it more costly for landlords to rent. How about removing restrictive zoning, hiring more staff to approve permits to accelerate construction, fast-tracking projects with affordable units, etc…