The coronavirus crisis, now officially a worldwide pandemic, is ravaging our community. Working people already are seeing reduced, and even entirely eliminated, paychecks, and they will find it difficult if not impossible to pay the rent or mortgage beginning next month. Small businesses are at risk of being shuttered.
We need the City to act urgently to prevent what could potentially be thousands of working families facing eviction, bankruptcy, or both.
Earlier today (March 11), I sent a letter to Mayor Durkan, calling on her administration to take immediate action under the emergency powers that the City Council voted to give her during the coronavirus crisis.
I wrote to her:
In Seattle right now, tens of thousands of workers – gig economy workers, service economy workers, small business workers, workers in entertainment industries, retail workers, office workers, and others – are waking up worried about basic survival. Without the City’s immediate intervention, renters will be evicted and small business owners will go bankrupt. The human cost will be incalculable.
I called on the mayor to immediately take the following steps:
Ban all economic evictions and late fees – both residential and small business.
Ban all coronavirus-related home foreclosures.
Require landlords, utilities, and residential mortgage-holders to work out payment plans that allow tenants and homeowners who are suffering economically due to the coronavirus epidemic up to 24 months to fulfill their payment obligations. Without reasonable repayment plans and timelines, tenants and homeowners will face crushing debt once the crisis is over.
Require all residential landlords to extend expiring leases until at least three months after the end date of the emergency declaration.
Take action now: Sign my Council office petition to the mayor, calling on her to adopt these life-saving emergency measures.
By sending this letter, I joined the call by unions, tenant and housing rights organizations, faith communities, socialists, retiree groups, and others in urging Mayor Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee to take action on many of these steps.
A study last year found that 60 percent of Americans are unable to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense, and indeed even under normal circumstances, most people would be in a bind if they missed even one paycheck. The status quo under capitalism is deeply hostile to the majority of working people, and it would be unconscionable to place the further burden of the coronavirus crisis on those who are already the most economically stressed.