There is a real chance that the eviction moratorium authorized by Governor Inslee will be lifted after March 31. Your advocacy now can do much to help many to stay in their homes and to prevent dramatic increases in the experience of homelessness.
This is the season where what is decided at the State Legislature in Olympia will have a disproportionate impact on King County, the largest county population-wise in the state. Many people in King and South Snohomish Counties have been hard hit in terms of health and economic loss due to COVID-19. This is especially true in communities of color. Lack of affordable housing, homelessness and displacement are triple crises that have been made worse by the pandemic. In advocating for and alongside people we love, know, and serve, our voices can make a difference for such a time as this.
There are several budgets that the legislature is determining during their session: operating, transportation, and capital.
Specific bills with numbers are generally in the operating budget, as these involves expenditures out of the general fund.
The capital budget has to do with building, including building housing. These don’t have bill numbers but are decided during budget negotiations late in the session.
Now is the moment to write, call or otherwise speak with your legislators. The toll-free phone number to reach your legislators with one call is still the same: 1-800-562-6000. Depending on the district you live in, you can connect with your legislators as frequently as you wish. In order to send an e-mail to your legislators, start here and then you can find your representatives’ and senator’s e-mail address: https://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/.
Many advocates, including people of faith, have relied on the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance to get relevant information on affordable housing issues in the state. Their priorities for this year fit our priorities as well.
Call/Write your legislators at 1-800-562-6000 and encourage them to support these four bills to prevent a massive tsunami of evictions:
SHB 1236: Ensuring that landlords cannot evict a tenant without having a legitimate reason for doing so (in effect, just cause eviction);
SHB 1277: Providing for eviction prevention and housing stability services (surcharge on document recording fee which can be used for rental assistance, among other things);
SSB 5160: Providing legal representation for tenants facing eviction, requiring repayment plans for unpaid rent during the pandemic, and ensures that landlords and tenants can access state assistance programs.
Here is a sample letter, which you can use to make your own. You can send a personalized message to your legislators through their e-mail portals. Be sure to include the reason why you are concerned about the issue and any personal experience that helps shed light on why this legislation is necessary now. Legislators want to hear from members of their own district, so they will be pay attention to what you have to say. Be clear, direct, and bold!
Thanks you for raising your voice and working toward the sustainable housing of all in our state!
Dear Senator or Representative:
Introduce yourself (and affiliation), city of residence, and the topic of your concern.
Points to note:
- Before the pandemic, there was a severe shortage of affordable housing in our county (city), particularly for people earning 30% of the median income and below;
- King County has an ambitious goal of developing or remodeling 44,000 affordable units by 2024;
- Yet, with rents having risen exponentially in recent years, many of our residents are at risk of being priced out of housing;
- Many more could lose their housing because of loss of income due to the pandemic;
- The population experiencing homelessness in our region continues to grow and is more vulnerable than ever;
- Our faith compels us to affirm and uphold lower-income residents in our community and to seek the well-being of all, in service of the common good;
- Investing in affordable housing and shelter now will help all our city’s residents thrive.
Therefore, I ask you to prioritize investing in affordable homes and increasing shelter capacity in this year’s budget. Specifically, I urge you to:
– Invest $240 million for the Housing Trust Fund to build new affordable homes,
– Invest $10 million to purchase and preserve affordable housing at risk of loss,
– Invest $70 million for shelter rapid acquisition, and
– Invest $40 million in enhanced shelter capacity grants.
Also, I support House Bill 1236, Just Cause Protection. In Washington, landlords can make someone move, for no reason, with just 20 days’ notice. The “just cause” bill would ensure that landlords cannot evict a tenant without having a legitimate reason for doing so.
Finally, I ask you to increase Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) funding for rental assistance and increased mental health funding, both of which are critical during this time of social and economic dislocation. The legislature’s investments are wise and necessary now and will do much to support families to stay housed and healthy.
I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your consideration.
Address or e-mail.