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Only 4.5% of King County’s $145 Million Rental Assistance Funding has Been Distributed

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In light of the recent Supreme Court decision striking down the federal moratorium, and the real legal risk to state and local eviction moratoriums, today King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn introduced legislation that seeks to expedite the distribution of rental assistance to those that are unable to pay their housing bill.

“Thousands of renters and landlords in King County are depending on this financial assistance to pay their housing costs,” said Dunn. “Especially as the end of Washington’s eviction moratorium approaches, it’s good government to get this money out the door for people who desperately need it.”

King County has received $145 million in rent assistance to distribute to renters and landlords who are struggling due to the economic impact of COVID-19. However, on August 18, the Seattle Times reported that King County had distributed only $6.5 million of its funding, which amounts to just 4.5%. This is notably lower than neighboring Pierce County, which has distributed 59%, and Snohomish County, which has distributed 47%.

As of mid-August 2021, King County has provided rental assistance for approximately 900 tenants. Almost 11,000 renters and landlords have applied for assistance. Washington state’s eviction moratorium is set to expire on September 30, 2021.

The motion requests a report on the delays in distributing the rental assistance funds, as well as recommendations for options to expedite the distribution to those who need it. The report would be due to the Council by November 2, 2021.

Rental Assistance Motion Sponsored by Councilmember Dunn:

A MOTION requesting the executive to report on delays in distributing rental assistance moneys and to recommend options for expediting the distribution of rental assistance moneys.

..Body

WHEREAS, on January 21, 2020, the Washington state Department of Health confirmed the first case of the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) in the United States in Snohomish County.  COVID-19, a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death, is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is a new strain of coronavirus that had not been previously identified in humans and can easily spread from person to person, and

WHEREAS, on February 29, 2020, the Washington state governor proclaimed that a State of Emergency exists in all counties in the state of Washington as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and

WHEREAS, the King County executive issued a proclamation of emergency on March 1, 2020, in order to allow King County to quickly respond to the new or different demands on service in response to the emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and

WHEREAS, in March 2020, the state and the county instituted “stay-at-home” orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 that closed all businesses except defined essential businesses, resulting in significant unemployment, and

WHEREAS, on March 18, 2020, Governor Inslee issued a proclamation prohibiting eviction actions based on nonpayment of rent until April 17, 2020, and subsequent proclamations extending protections for tenants through September 30, 2021, and

WHEREAS, renters are still obligated to pay landlords, and mortgage-holders are still obligated to pay lenders, resulting in potentially significant accumulated debt for those who defer payments, and

WHEREAS, federal moneys have been provided to support tenants and landlords through rental assistance, and

WHEREAS, over one hundred thousand renters in Washington reported that they are “not at all confident” they can pay their rent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, and

WHEREAS, the Seattle Times reported in August 2021 that King County had spent only six million five hundred thousand dollars of the one hundred forty-five million dollars provided by the federal government for rental assistance, and

WHEREAS, King County has delivered rental assistance to approximately nine hundred tenants as of August 2021, a small portion of the approximately ten thousand nine hundred renters and landlords who have applied for assistance;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT MOVED by the Council of King County:

  1. The executive is requested to report to the council on delays in distributing rental assistance moneys, including identifying existing barriers, and to recommend options for expediting the distribution of rental assistance moneys, including any additional resources needed and an estimated timeframe for distributing all rental assistance moneys.
  2. The executive should electronically file the report by November 1, 2021, with the clerk of the council, who shall retain an electronic copy and provide an electronic copy to all councilmembers.

The above is a press release from King County Council, Councilmember Dunn.  The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents and encourages our readers to personally verify any information they find may be overly biased or questionable. The publication of this press release does not indicate an endorsement of its content. 

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