The Mayor's Office says Harrell will extend the moratorium through executive order, pushing residential evictions, small business and nonprofit commercial tenant evictions back another 30 days.
"As this rapid surge in cases driven by the Omicron variant drives further pandemic uncertainty, keeping vulnerable people in their homes must be the immediate focus," said Harrell. "Over the next month, we will continue to track changing conditions and seek improved metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of the moratorium and aligned policies. Our actions will continue to be driven by data and our values, focused on preventing a rise in homelessness and supporting the tenants and small landlords most in need."
Harrell is also forming an interdepartmental team to handle support funds and improve data collection on the ongoing moratorium. The city will develop an outreach plan for Seattle tenants at risk of eviction, educating them of their rights while also providing utility assistance for tenants and small landlords. An advisory group will evaluate the city's coordination with regional governments in providing financial assistance, and report back to Harrell.
"I am refusing to simply extend the moratorium and sit idly by as if our work is done – the City must go further to pursue the most effective methods of support for tenants and small landlords," said Mayor Harrell. "In this Executive Order, I am directing City departments to use the next 30 days to urgently and comprehensively collect and analyze needed data around the pandemic’s effect on the housing crisis and impact of the eviction moratorium, improve accessibility and delivery of assistance resources, and prepare targeted outreach to tenants most at-risk of eviction."
An ordinance passed by the City Council in 2021 will provide an additional six months of tenant protections when the eviction moratorium expires. Harrell also directed Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities to keep flexible payment plans in effect for 90 days until April 15.
Local housing advocacy groups and landlord groups have been critics of the eviction moratorium these last couple years.
Roger Valdez of Seattle for Growth said, "When people don’t pay, housing providers are harmed (still have to cover costs). Bans don’t pay the rent, and there are hundreds of millions in rent assistance still not distributed. Bottom line, we don’t need bans we need the rent relief we have not distributed."
"A lot of us live in the properties that we rent. If we have someone in our home exhibiting behavior problems, harassment, causing a nuisance, causing damage to the property, we got to live with that. We’ve had to live with that for two years," said small landlord Charlotte Thistle. "We had a situation where somebody went on a sabbatical, sublet their house for a year, came back and they couldn’t move back into their own home because the person who was living there wouldn’t leave. Even though they had an agreement of you’re going to leave at the end of this."
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