Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan will not sign a ban on winter evictions passed by the Seattle City Council, and announced a new partnership and legislation that will provide assistance for individuals who are facing winter eviction, according to a release.
“Being progressive means more than slogans. If city council wants to accomplish our shared goals to prevent winter evictions, then they should pass a bill to actually help people facing winter evictions,” Durkan said in the statement.
“As council knows, their bill will not prevent evictions – it places the full burden on the tenant and opens up the city to significant legal costs. As a city, we should be spending taxpayer dollars to help people – not hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers to defend this bill. A real solution is to help households avoid the eviction process altogether,” she said.
The bill will now go back to the council for consideration, and council members could still make it law with a two-thirds vote, according to reports.
The Seattle City Council voted in February to ban winter evictions during the months of December through February, shortening the original proposal from five months to three.
Council Bill 119727, which council members unanimously passed Feb. 10, bans evictions between December and February with exceptions for landlords who own four units or fewer and evictions caused by behavior that has an impact on the health and safety of others.
Durkan’s statement continued: “After conversations with United Way of King County, an investment to build off the Seattle Human Services Department’s current prevention programs could allow the city to provide resources to individuals potentially facing evictions this upcoming winter.”
The release said as currently written, Council Bill 119727 “does not protect most vulnerable households at risk of evictions, and the city could incur potential litigation. In addition to spurring more evictions in the spring, council’s legislation did not ban winter evictions. Instead, it created a legal defense during eviction proceedings. It would require tenants to appear in court to use winter eviction as a defense. A recent study concluded nearly half of households failed to contest an eviction or appear in court.
“As a young lawyer, I saw firsthand how devastating evictions can be in one’s life. I first met Lola at a women’s shelter after she had been forced out of her home and onto the street. After months in court, I was able to prove she was wrongfully evicted and connect her with a new home, but she had spent months without a home because of lengthy legal proceedings. Providing the resources to help prevent eviction in the first place is the right thing to do,” Durkan said in the release.
To successfully help people at risk of eviction stay in their homes, Durkan will transmit a bill to the city council to increase funding assistance to tenants facing homelessness due to eviction between December 1 and March 1, building off of the Seattle Human Services Department’s existing program, which served 974 unique households at risk of homelessness last year. In addition, her bill would require the development of a disclosure provision that will require landlords to make sure tenants are aware of the availability of winter-eviction support and prevention resources, according to the release.