Letter to the editor: Rising rents and homelessness

During the second gubernatorial debate, Governor Inslee connected the dots between rising rents and homelessness. There are no silver bullet solutions to homelessness or the affordable housing crisis. We have an opportunity to repeal RCW 35.21.830, which prohibits rent controls, and to allow limits to address no-cause eviction. Cities and counties in Washington state need additional tools to contend with these issues beyond proposing levies or extending notice requirements.

The affordable housing crisis is a catalyst for landlords to raise their rents, too often with increases that would shock the conscience of average people – 20 percent, 30 percent, even near 60 percent. No cause eviction is being used in lieu of outrageous rent increases for current tenants, which often results in tenants having no place to move to and, thus, increasing homelessness.

The communities affected most are the low-wage earners and fixed income seniors. It is immoral to force these communities into choosing between rent vs food, or worse, rent vs medication. Another consequence is the increase in food insecurity, evidenced by the increase in the number of grade school students dependent on school lunch programs. The issue extends to an unstable local economy.

It is time to give cities and counties additional tools. It is the right way to balance the landlord-tenant relationship.

— David McDevitt


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