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Standing Room Only Meeting of the Committee to End Homelessness and Rental Housing Inspections

This morning, the Governing Board of the Committee to End Homelessness (of which I’m a member) received a visit from a lot folks who don’t normally attend to these meetings.  The group calls itself “Occupy the Committee to End Homelessness.”  They are people who are concerned that since the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness began, we’ve seen 25% more people without any shelter at all and a 7% increase in the numbers of people staying in shelter.  I agree that we need to do more to address the immediate survival needs of the approximately 1,900 people in Seattle sleeping outdoors without shelter.  For this reason, I asked that members of this group be given time on their agenda to speak to their goals.

This afternoon, in my Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee, I hosted a roundtable discussion with representatives from two landlord trade organizations – the Rental Housing Association (RHA) and the Washington Multi-Familiy Housing Association (WMFHA), Seattle King County Public Health, Columbia Legal Services, the Associated Students of the University of Washington, and another landlord with a unique perspective on rental housing inspections.

We started off reviewing the many points of agreement.  The major point that the Council has yet to determine is if your program goals are to a. get better information on numbers of illegal and substandard rental properties and b. have fewer Seattle residents live in substandard housing and c. have a self-sustaining, revenue-neutral program, how many rental properties should be subject to interior inspection?   Today was a good opportunity to hear the proposal of the 2 major landlord trade associations and the response of the other stakeholders to that proposal.  RHA and WMFHA propose inspecting a random 5% of units every year and believe that this will be sufficient to ensure that most landlords do not rent units with health and safety violations.   This may be true.  But it’s already true that most landlords do not rent units with health and safety violations.  I support a program that finds as many of the unsafe units as we can, so we can make those units safe for the families living in them.

If you’d like to watch the meeting, you can catch it here, and starting watching about 46 minutes in.

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