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Councilmember Morales Resolution Calls for Immediate Moratorium on Residential and Commercial Rent, Mortgage Payments

Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2, South Seattle and the CID), put forth a resolution calling on Gov. Inslee, federal legislators, and the Trump administration to use emergency powers to place a moratorium on commercial and residential rent and mortgage payments, providing necessary relief to thousands of Seattle residents and business owners struggling with the economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis.

Morales has heard from many constituents who are concerned about their economic futures should renters, homeowners, property owners, and business owners not see a rent and mortgage moratorium soon.

“Since this crisis started, nearly every one of my constituents that I’ve heard from has asked for this. They’re saying the City’s existing 60-day moratorium on evictions doesn’t go far enough to ensure their financial future and ability to remain housed within the city. We already have a public health crisis on our hands, we can’t add to it by creating a housing and homelessness crisis,” Morales said. “The City, state and federal government must do everything it can to ensure Seattleites aren’t heading from a public health emergency into a depression accruing massive amounts of debt. We must stop this economic freefall now, rather than kicking this can down the road. Otherwise we’ll see an increase in evictions, foreclosures, and permanent loss of important cultural spaces as soon as the immediate crisis is over, causing another wave of economic crises for families across the city.”

Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle City Council passed a 60-day moratorium on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 loss of income. However, after the moratorium is lifted, renters are still obligated to pay landlords, despite loss of income. Forty-seven percent of Seattle renters are rent burdened. This means those experiencing loss of income due to the coronavirus crisis are accumulating significant amounts of personal debt, putting them on unstable financial footing in the future. 

Additionally, mortgage-holders are still obligated to pay their lenders, creating a financial crisis for homeowners and landlords, which is why Morales is also calling for relief from mortgage payments. 

“I am a textile artist and the primary provider for a family of four with a small art business. I was looking forward to a very prosperous year in 2020, my calendar was full, and suddenly I lost all of my sources of income virtually overnight due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said District 2 business owner and resident Flóra Carlile-Kovács. “Small art businesses like mine are very vulnerable, and often have no funds set aside to get them through hard times. We realize how little we actually need to survive if we have a shelter. But it is very frightening to have an obligation to pay rents and mortgages with no income.” 

Morales’s resolution is part of a nationwide movement calling for relief for renters, landlords and homeowners with mortgages. In San Francisco, elected leaders introduced a resolution calling for a moratorium on rent and mortgage payments to provide relief to those economically impacted by California’s shelter-in-place order. Councilmember Morales joins San Francisco Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Dean Preston, and Matt Haney in calling for a nationwide moratorium to help all residents and business owners impacted by this health crisis and the growing economic crisis.

San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen echoed Councilmember Morales, saying “If we don’t find a way to cancel rent and mortgage during this health crisis, we’re going to see massive evictions, foreclosures, and homelessness when the stay-at-home orders are lifted. The Fed lost no time in getting $1.5 trillion to the banks. We need the same level of national attention for renters and mortgage-holders.”

Morales’s resolution will go before the Full City Council on Monday, March 30, 2020 during its regularly-scheduled 2 p.m. meeting. 

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