With the pandemic eviction bans lifted, thousands of renters in Washington state are at risk of losing their homes. We offered a “Companis Connects” webinar on the subject and invited a legal expert on housing and tenants rights to talk about what’s at stake and how this is impacting people’s lives.
Our guest for this “Connects” event was Edmund Witter, Senior Managing Attorney with the King County Bar Association. He manages the Housing Justice Project which provides free legal assistance to renters facing eviction in King County. Jennifer Wing, Associate Executive Director – Programs, interviewed him and took questions from the audience.
Edmund and his team collect data on evictions in our area. He says 90 percent of evictions in King County are due to nonpayment of rent and 88 percent of those tenants did not find permanent housing. That, in turn, pushes them into shelters, cars, staying with friends and family (usually on a temporary basis) or onto the streets.
Data from 2017 show that over half of evictions were for a month or less in rent. Edmund says the main causes for falling behind on rent are due to temporary unemployment, medical bills, and loss of life in a household.
In addition to the eviction bans being lifted and government assistance running out, Edmund says rent increases are one of the biggest issues he’s seeing right now, with an average increase of 18 percent in King County.
Bottom line, he says, keeping people housed cuts down on homelessness.
(Click on the Vimeo link below to view a recording of the webinar. NOTE: It includes some very informative slides, as well.)