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Councilmember Sawant, Community Groups Unite to Call on Mayor Durkan to Extend Eviction Moratorium Through 2021

Urging rank-and-file renters to join the June 24 rally at 6 PM at Cal Anderson Park, Sawant says, ‘Mayor Durkan has a choice: She can stand with struggling renters and extend the eviction moratorium through this year, or represent corporate landlords’

Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), chair of the Council’s Sustainability and Renters’ Rights Committee, today urged Mayor Durkan to extend the eviction moratorium through the end of the year, to protect tens of thousands of renters. Sawant’s call, joined by community organizations, follows the Seattle City Council’s unanimous 7-0 adoption last Monday of Resolution 31998 sponsored by Sawant, which calls on Mayor Durkan and Governor Inslee to renew and extend city and state moratoriums through 2021.

The current city and state eviction moratoriums expire June 30 – in just 15 days.

“Throughout Seattle and the entire state, renters are struggling in the aftermath of the COVID crisis and have been forced to accumulate debt during the economic recession,” Sawant said. She noted that according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, 289,000 Washington State renters – nearly one out of every five state renters – have little to no confidence they will be able to pay rent next month, and 67,000 Washington State renters think it is very or somewhat likely they will be evicted in the next two months.

“The billionaires are richer than ever, while working people are in unprecedented hardship. Without an extension to the eviction moratorium, there will be a tsunami of evictions – along with unimaginable human suffering,” Sawant said.

Alongside rank-and-file renters and activist organizations, Sawant’s office announced a Rally to Extend the Eviction Moratorium Through 2021, Fight for Rent Control, and Cancel COVID Debt for Thursday, June 24, at 6PM at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill to demand that the Mayor extend the moratorium through 2021. Rally co-sponsors include UAW 4121, the Resident and Fellow Physician Union – Northwest, Be:Seattle, Real Change, Nickelsville, Socialist Alternative, and SHARE. 

Extending the eviction moratorium is a racial justice issue. As the American Civil Liberties Union has noted, “Due to decades of inequalities in our housing system, communities of color and low-income women feel the impacts of eviction the most — Black women in particular.” 

According to ApartmentList.Com, nationally 28 percent of renters started the year with rental debt, but for Black households that figure was a staggering 53 percent. 

In Seattle, Black renters are served with eviction notices at more than three times the rate of other renters, according to the King County Bar Association’s Housing Justice Project.

“Mayor Durkan has a choice: She can stand with struggling renters and extend the eviction moratorium through this year, or represent corporate landlords,” Sawant said. “We demand Durkan stand with us and extend the eviction moratorium through the end of 2021.”

Community leaders have joined in the growing call on the Mayor to extend the moratorium through the end of 2021:

“It is imperative for Mayor Durkan to extend the eviction moratorium in Seattle through the end of 2021,” said Sharon Crowley, a member of the Seattle Renters Commission and an organizer for UAW 4121, the union of 6,000 academic student employees and postdocs at the University of Washington. “Renters and working people need this. The City Council unanimously passed a resolution for this extension over a week ago. Now is the time to act. We cannot allow the economic burden of the Covid pandemic to fall hardest on the most precarious among us.”

“Capitulating to corporate greed by allowing the eviction moratorium to expire before rent relief funds have been fully distributed and renters have had a chance to recover is wildly irresponsible. It places the burden of the pandemic on our most vulnerable residents and will further intensify the existing homelessness crisis,” said Kate Rubin, Executive Director of Be:Seattle.

Matt Maley, an educator and rank-and-file member of the Seattle Education Association, said, “Thank you to Councilmember Sawant and her office for fighting for the needs of rank-and-file union members, students and families, winning the eviction protections for school aged children was a huge victory. Now, I urge union members to build on this renters’ rights victory by joining us at the rally on June 24th to demand that Mayor Durkan extend the COVID eviction moratorium for all renters through the end of 2021.”

“As a homeless individual, I know how hard it is to navigate the housing system, especially during a pandemic where even the most mundane task can become strained,” said Ryan Miller, speaking for Seattle Housing and Resource Effort (SHARE).  He added: “We need to fight in every way possible to keep people in the housing they have. Shouldn’t homes outweigh profit?” 

Noting that current shelters would be overwhelmed by an end to the eviction moratorium, Sean Smith of Nickelsville said, “Our tiny house village is already over capacity.  The system can’t handle any more while at the same time we’re seeing increased mortality on the street.”

“Housing is a racial justice issue. 82% of landlords in Seattle are white while 58% of Black households are rent burdened,” noted Tram Tran-Larson, Community Engagement Manager for the King County Bar Association’s Housing Justice Project. “It is a gender justice issue; women with children are at the greatest risk of eviction. It is a LGBTQ+ justice issue; 1 in 4 trans folks experience housing discrimination. This isn’t about property rights; this is about human rights. Renter protections don’t prevent landlords from providing housing; it prevents renters from being homeless,” she said.

“Not extending the eviction moratorium is playing with people’s lives,” said Tiffani McCoy, Advocacy Director for Real Change. “We need immediate action to extend the moratorium and continue to strengthen tenant protections and create a massive fund for rental assistance so no one loses their housing,” she said.

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