Council Members from left Lisa Herbold, Mike Obrien, and Kshama Sawant at the press conference. Photo by Runta News
— A variety of community and labor organizations joined Washington Community Action Network and
Councilmembers Kshama Sawant, Lisa Herbold, and Mike O’Brien to unveil both Seattle’s Renting Crisis: A Report and Policy Recommendations as well as legislation to cap movein fees. Washington CAN!’s report revealed marginalized communities are disproportionately impacted by unaffordable rent, landlord retaliation, unhealthy housing conditions, and the various barriers to accessing housing. In the report, one of the biggest barriers to accessing housing is the high upfront costs (security deposit, last month’s rent, first month’s rent, and nonrefundable fees) many landlords require tenants to pay at movein. “I receive Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Insurance, a total of $752 a month. With rents as high as they are, I do not have the ability to save for these high upfront costs which would easily be several thousand dollars. I have to move in March, and because of the high rent and upfront costs common in Seattle, I do not know what I’m going to do if legislative steps to remedy this problem are not taken,” said Meagan Murphy, member of Washington CAN! Councilmember Sawant’s legislation,
crafted with input from Washington CAN!, would require movein fees (security deposit and nonrefundable fees combined) to be no more than the cost of one month’s rent. In addition, landlords would be
required to accept a payment plan of up to six months for movein fees and last month’s rent. “Seattle’s renters are facing a serious crisis. In May, onebedroom apartment rents rose 11%, the highest increase in the nation. As we fight for rent control, we need to reduce all barriers faced by renters. The cost of moving into a rental unit is first on that list,” Sawant said. Both Councilmember Herbold and Councilmember O’Brien support this legislation. “Lowincome individuals and families across the city continue to struggle to find housing and movein costs pose a barrier to many tenants who are barely making ends meet. This legislation will help address this barrier by lowering upfront costs to Seattle renters. Thanks to Washington CAN! and Councilmember Sawant for bringing this forward,” O’Brien said. A variety of labor and community organizations support this legislation as well. “Lowincome women, particularly women with children, are especially vulnerable to predatory landlords who charge exorbitant fees to access housing. Excessive movein costs can make housing prohibitively expensive, and present yet another barrier to women who already face hurdles when trying to access basic health care, including reproductive health care. Women are more likely to be poor, more likely to be raising children alone, and more likely to face barriers to housing access, which is why NARAL ProChoice Washington supports this proposal to make housing more accessible to all Seattle residents,” said Rachel Berkson, Executive Director of NARAL ProChoice Washington. Monica Cortes Viharo, UAW Local 4121 Executive Board member says, “Our members (student workers at the University of Washington)
really struggle with housing affordability. We see this issue as vital to our members’ interests and to addressing a broader need to make Seattle livable for all lowwage workers.” Several other organizations attended the press conference to show their support for the legislation (SEIU Local 6, SEIU 1199, Transit Riders Union, Tenants Union, Gender Justice League, Wa-shington Student Association, UAW Local 4121, UFCW Local 21, Seattle Education Association, and others). The legislation will be introduced in the coming weeks. Washington CAN! will continue to push for both this legislation and the policy recommendations
ou-tlined in their report.