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Seattle's eviction moratorium will expire Feb. 28 after council refuses to extend

Five members voted against councilmember Kshama Sawant's proposal to extend the moratorium for the eighth time since March 2020.

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council voted against a proposal Tuesday to extend the city's eviction moratorium. 

Councilmembers voted 5-3 against Councilmember Kshama Sawant's proposal to extend the moratorium for the eighth time since March 2020. She called for the moratorium to continue through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, a date which has not yet been determined.

Mayor Bruce Harrell previously announced the moratorium would end on Feb. 28. 

Sawant says the city is on the edge of a moratorium crisis, but Harrell's office says it's difficult to track the number of people who have benefited from the moratorium.

However, 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.

More than 80 people signed up for the public comment portion of the council's meeting on Tuesday, with a number of them in favor of extending the moratorium. 

"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.

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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."

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