In yet another shameful capitulation to corporate landlords, Democrat Alex Pedersen is working to insert anti-renter loopholes into the legislation from my office banning school-year evictions of schoolchildren, their families. Just this morning, he introduced four amendments that he will be bringing up in the Renters Rights Committee meeting, which I chair, this afternoon.
Amendment #1 would “sunset” the school-year eviction protections after 18 months. Under this amendment, all of the school-year eviction protections would end at the end of 2022, which is completely unacceptable. Corporate landlords are already gearing up to carry out what economists predict will be a “tsunami” of evictions once the eviction moratoriums end. No school kid or educator family should face eviction at any time – now, or in the future. By inserting this sunset clause, politicians would say it’s OK for profiteering corporate landlords to resume evicting schoolchildren, their families, and educators beginning in 2023.
Amendment #2 would exclude school workers who don’t hold “professional certification” as educators. This shameful, elitist amendment would exclude the lowest-paid school workers, those who are at the greatest risk of eviction. It cynically tries to divide teachers from other school workers, and insinuates that other workers – like teacher aides, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers – are not essential to the education of our children and not worthy of protection from eviction. This amendment excludes special education aides, who have to develop a trusting, long-term relationship with their students to be effective. This excludes translators, who are overwhelmingly educators of color.
Amendment #3 would exempt all landlords who own fewer than five apartments. Councilmembers supporting this amendment will say this is to protect small, “mom-and-pop” landlords, but that is a lie. In fact, many corporate landlords set up separate companies for each of their buildings, and falsely claim that the management company of each of their buildings is its own separate landlord. This makes it very difficult for renters to know who the property owner is. This corporate shell game is an underhanded mechanism that big businesses use to evade their responsibilities. Moreover, this bill is not about landlords – it’s about protecting children and their education and mental health. Children suffer from eviction, particularly during the school year, regardless of who their landlord is. We need to defend all school families and educators against eviction, not just some.
Amendment #4 would limit these protections to prevent only certain types of evictions. Educators would only be protected from no-fault evictions like renovation, and children would only be protected from no-fault evictions and eviction for being behind on rent if the renter signs a declaration of poverty. This whole amendment ignores that this bill is about protecting children. Should the child also have to sign a “declaration of poverty” – that they cannot afford the rent? What if they are too young to be able to read and write? This is a gratuitously cruel hurdle that poor childrens and their families will be subjected to. Data on such “means testing” clauses shows that it makes the service less accessible to the people it’s meant to protest. Which means that many evictions that could easily be prevented will happen. Additionally, none of these conditions (whether the landlord wants to renovate or not) have any bearing on the impact of the eviction on children. How does it change the detrimental impact on a child’s education and mental health if their teacher is evicted for one reason or another. It is irrelevant. Isn’t being unable to pay the rent proof itself of financial hardship?
All four of these amendments serve to weaken our legislation and bail out corporate landlords. This is an unacceptable betrayal of our movement for renters’ rights, and we must mobilize to oppose it. Today at noon, sign up to give public comment at the Renters Rights Committee and tell City Council Democrats to put an end to all school-year evictions of children, families, and educators, with no loopholes, no means testing, and no sunset clause.
12:00 pm (Noon) — Sign up for public comment: https://www.seattle.gov/council/committees/public-comment
2:00 pm — Speak in Public Comment and watch the committee meeting here: http://seattlechannel.org/