SEATTLE — Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant proposed legislation to extend the city's eviction moratorium in a committee meeting on Friday.
Small landlords argue that's not the solution to the city's housing and rental crisis.
The eviction moratorium is set to expire in Seattle at the end of February. Sawant presented the legislation at the Sustainability and Renters Rights Committee meeting. It proposes an extension of the eviction moratorium through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, which hasn't been determined yet.
Sawant invited renters and organizers to the committee. Landlords said they would also be there to speak in opposition to the legislation.
"I was disappointed to hear that Councilmember Sawant is proposing yet another, indefinite extension of the eviction moratorium through the Seattle City Council," said Ayda, a Seattle landlord that asked we not use her last name.
Ayda owns a home in north Seattle. She's used the property as a rental and said in 2020 she planned to move back, but her tenant has lived in the home without paying rent or communicating since October 2020. She's now renting an apartment but said for a year she was sleeping on friends' couches.
"I have not been able to live in my own home. I have absorbed the hit of a $50,000 loss of rent and utilities because my tenant is not paying rent and has no accountability to do so," said Ayda. "I would be happy if the city, county or state could start rolling out the rental assistance more quickly and in a more targeted fashion."
Sawant called ending the eviction moratorium inhumane.
"Those facing eviction are disproportionately Black working-class renters and other communities of color... Ending the eviction moratorium now would lead to a deadly wave of evictions, and increased homelessness, in the midst of this ongoing crisis," said Sawant in a statement.
Seattle is facing a possible eviction crisis. King County's rental assistance is running out. The county estimates it does not have enough funds to assist all the households that have applied. The King County Housing Justice Project said anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 households may not receive rental assistance if more money doesn't become available.
Housing advocates said the city and county should be looking at a long-term solution.
Ayda acknowledged the problem is complicated. She hopes the city can find a solution that helps tenants and protects landlords.
"Allow landlords to enforce the contacts that they have,” said Ayda. “Allow us to pursue the protections that we have on both sides that are already existing, very strong rental protections already in place in Seattle."
The legislation will be introduced to the council at a meeting on Tuesday, March 1. If passed, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell will not have the power to veto the proposal.