Renter stability in Federal Way | Letters

Homeowners need our renting neighbors to have stable and secure housing. Our Federal Way City Council needs to pass the Renter Stability Extension to ensure that.

As a Federal Way homeowner, I know that it’s in our collective interest to protect our renting neighbors from being pushed out of their homes due to the pandemic.

Currently we are in the midst of a pandemic in which all of us are being impacted — some much more than others. But, what we have also seen is that if we don’t ensure all of us can get through this safely, we all will suffer the consequences.

To put it plainly, this pandemic has made it gravely clear that we are in this together, regardless of outcome. Our city council has the ability to directly influence our shared situation by passing the Renter Stability Extension.

At community meetings, I’ve heard from families who faced rent increases while their landlord refused to make repairs. Experiences have included dangerous levels of mold, appliances not working for months, etc. These families were told that it was their responsibility to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, the city council did not enact policy to protect their city residents from facing mass evictions after the state moratorium lifts. Renters have less security than their mortgage-paying counterparts.

As a homeowner, I would have months to catch up on my payment, while renters who fall behind typically will have 14 days to catch up, or with a no-cause notice, only 20 days to move and no recourse to stay in their home. Meanwhile, those who rent are more likely to be working riskier jobs for less pay. They’re more likely to be exposed to COVID-19, and their families also.

We must all be partners in getting through this challenge. Federal Way already has good cause eviction protections, thanks to voters throughout the city approving a ballot measure. Now our city council needs to pass the Renter Stability Extension. This will ensure that after the statewide eviction moratorium lifts, renters will have long-term protections against eviction for falling behind on rent during the pandemic. This is necessary to ensure that our families will stay housed, stay healthy, and stay safe. Gov. Jay Inslee recently extended the moratorium and our city council has given a proclamation — both of which are good things, but the need overwhelms this resource.

The average rent of a one-bedroom apartment in Federal Way costs $1,250 per month, which means at best, 400 households would get support paying one month’s rent. Of Federal Way’s population of about 97,000 people, 43.9% are renters, so the $500K will quickly deplete, leaving thousands at risk of losing their housing.

The council needs to take initiative to pass the Renter Stability Extension. In the late 1970s, my husband and I attained housing stability, purchasing a small home in Federal Way with the assistance of the government-sponsored GI Bill. Government participation is needed now to ensure housing stability for all.

Our community is at its best when we care for one another. We must do all that we can to increase stability for our entire community. It’s the right thing to do, and involves taking action to make sure that we all can get through this. I’m asking our Federal Way City Council to pass the Renter’s Stability Extension. And, am urging all who live in Federal Way, including those with housing stability, to contact our council to voice their support.

Mary Fierke, Federal Way

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