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Councilmember Sawant to Introduce Ordinance for Emergency Moratorium on Winter Evictions on Monday

Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle) today announced that she plans to bring forward legislation on Monday to pass an emergency moratorium on evictions of renters during Seattle’s winter months. 

Sawant also highlighted the success of a community campaign, led in part by her office, that led to the halt of plans to close the Northlake Tiny House Village, a move which would have risked putting 23 homeless neighbors on the street as the city enters the cold winter season.

The City of Seattle Renters’ Commission recently sent a letter urging City Council to pass an emergency moratorium – effective immediately – on evictions during the winter. In their letter, the Commissioners said, “Passing such a moratorium will keep neighbors from being displaced to the streets during the months with the harshest weather and poorest living conditions for neighbors living unsheltered.

“I am grateful to the Renters’ Commission for recommending an emergency moratorium on winter eviction,” said Councilmember Sawant. “I strongly agree that Council needs to put this into effect immediately. My office will bring forward legislation next week, amending the City’s Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, in coordination with City Council staff and the City Attorney’s office.”

Sawant’s upcoming bill to enact a moratorium on winter evictions of renters follows the community’s fight against the City’s proposed plan to shut down the Northlake tiny house village. The Northlake Tiny House Village was scheduled to remain in its location through March 2020, but in late October the City announced the village would need to be closed. Residents were subsequently given notice to leave by Monday, Dec. 9.

“Just yesterday morning, my office shared an emergency petition urging Mayor Durkan to reverse an inhumane plan to shut down Northlake, which is a lifeline for several homeless neighbors. In just 28 hours, more than 1,700 community members have signed this petition, once again rejecting the anti-homeless logic of the right wing and of the Chamber of Commerce. It is due to this pressure from, and unity in with the grassroots movement, that we have successfully forced the Mayor’s office to back off from the decision to evict our homeless neighbors,” Sawant said. “Addressing Seattle’s crisis will require bold policies such as the Amazon Tax to fund services and a major expansion of social housing, and a strong, citywide rent control policy.”

The community letter to the Mayor, initiated by Sawant’s office, reads in part,

The crisis around this tiny house village, which currently is home to 23 of our neighbors, has been artificially instigated by the City of Seattle Human Service Department, which like all City departments reports to your administration. In late October, Human Services notified the village that the department would stop leasing the property from another City department (Seattle City Light) on December 31.

As you well know, the practical effect of this decision will be to push people who are at present in tiny houses, with heat to protect them from the cold, access to a kitchen and washrooms, and who are part of a supportive community, onto the street in the dead of winter.

This is cruel and inhumane.

Sawant has championed tiny house villages, most recently leading the People’s Budget campaign that won $2 million in funding for new tiny house villages in 2020. Sawant also is advancing legislation to update land use code to allow much more flexible siting of tiny house villages.

Tiny house villages are a proven, successful program for moving people who are living on the streets into permanent, affordable housing, as recognized by the city’s Human Services Department. 

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