Ahead of "Tsunami" of Evictions, Sawant Proposes Right to Counsel for Seattle Tenants

Comments

1

This sort of action by Councilwoman Sawant is why I quit being a landlord, sold my properties, and everything that goes with that. Inability to:
Select Tenants, Check for Criminal History despite a responsibility for me to provide a safe housing environment for all of my tenants, myriad tenant squatters who can evade being put on the lease by leaving for 5 days every 6 months, and an inability to remove a tenant for cause.

I am nowhere near articulate enough in this space provided, Nathalie.
Please consider taking 5 minutes and reading this. Please. In the process of trying to make this milieu more fare for everyone, Seattle is pricing lower income folks OUT of the market, while creating a systemic Black Market tenancy, paid for by every breed of landlord, including those of us at the twilights of our lives, depending on rent for our daily bread.

https://rentalhousingjournal.com/seattle-landlords-and-housing-a-case-study-in-crisis-creation/?fbclid=IwAR3Vfo9GUQ6WYpj1JBXF36iJGBufyuEy1bzKAfMa7FLoN5k_7lhiMYrKfFQ

2

San Francisco is spending $4,400 per case in its right to counsel program: https://www.sfpublicpress.org/right-to-counsel-helps-tenants-stay-in-place-but-effort-is-short-on-attorneys/

So, assuming the 2020 HJP caseload of 2,282 cases referenced in this Slog post is an accurate representation of the caseload going forward (I personally assume it will be much higher once the eviction moratoria lapse), we need to come up with a bit over $10 million annually to make this work.

It seems crazy to throw this kind of money at litigation to keep low income renters in private housing. This money would likely do far more good if spent on public housing instead.

3

@2:

Given current housing prices, at-best $10 mm would pay for about 20 - 25 small-scale (say 1,000 square feet or under) new homes. OTOH if it keeps even 500 families in their existing homes I'd say the cost-benefit ratio falls easily to supporting the latter.

4

Most evictions are straightforward: the tenant is either a deadbeat, they're trashing the property or not following the rules. This will make getting rid of a tenant who's abusing their landlord that much harder.

Last summer the Seattle Times ran an article about some Capitol Hill tenants who were calling for a 'rent strike'. They admitted they could afford to pay the rent (especially as they were either still working or, thanks the the CARES act + UI, were making MORE money than when they were working!), but were taking advantage of the Eviction Moratorium 'on principle'.

Komrade Kshama the Broadway Bolshevik continues to lead her Peasant's Crusade and will ultimately not only drive small-time landlords out of the business, but major employers as well.

And so we go, slouching our way to becoming 'Baltimore West'.

VoteWokeGoBroke

5

@4 Is the sky falling again? Get an umbrella.

6

'Right to Council'.
Ok fine but where's the money coming from? Taxing the rich money has already been spent this year, even before it comes in.

7

@5, No, the sky has been falling.

8

I'm glad to see No Eviction Without Representation coming to life in Seattle! There's a strong precedent for this upcoming legislation, with at least seven jurisdictions having already implemented it (SF, Baltimore, Boulder, and more).

This video is a is a lighter way to explain why counsel is necessary, and it brings some humor to the dark issue of evictions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPFPBzr7FgY

9

@3 sounds like a really expensive band-aid.

Also, your figures seem way off. This recent article notes $55.8 million in funding created 840 new housing units: https://southseattleemerald.com/2020/12/08/city-of-seattle-announces-55-8-million-in-new-affordable-housing-projects-including-partnerships-with-black-church-housing-nonprofits/

That suggests $10 million would support the creation of 150 new units, which is obviously many more than the 20-25 you suggested.

Why are people in Seattle so reluctant to build low income housing? I honestly don't get it. Seattle has pissed away billions of dollars on combating homelessness in the past decade or so, but doesn't have a lot to show for it. Do people really think elected officials like Sawant have been effective in their approach to the homelessness crisis?

10

@9, X2

11

@9: "Why are people in Seattle so reluctant to build low income housing?"

Two words, Sparky: Cabrini-Green.

Anyone with a sense of history knows the name of that notorious Public Housing project. It was a crime-ridden, rat warren. It was a 'girlfriend farm' for the area gangbangers.

The problem is that 'Public Housing' usually doesn't work. You don't solve poverty by throwing money at poor people. Simply giving people something they otherwise couldn't afford doesn't improve their situation; it only enables the bad habits and choices that put them where they already are.

Want to make a difference? Here's an idea that will make every SJW's head explode: lets bring back the concept of the Victorian 'workhouse', but do it smart. Create a facility that provides clean, safe housing and wraparound services. Don't enable bad behaviours like addiction, but provide ample psych/social worker help to create personalised programmes that guide each client to self-sufficiency. It's not cheap, but it's cheaper in the long run over our present street/ER/jail merry-go-round

To make it work, we need intellectual concessions from the Right AND Left. Sadly, I don't see that happening anytime soon. The former is happy with the 'Law of the Jungle', and the latter wants cradle-to-grave Marxism.

12

@11: Oh. I get it--your last name's Bumble! Tell me---do you force feed thin, greasy gruel every night to starving little children putting in ten times their daily bread in labor while you and your ilk dine on steaks, roasts, and caviar in plain view? Then you and your fat, ugly pearl-clutching wife plot and scheme to profit off hawking the belongings of women who died in childbirth leaving their children orphaned?
If there is a deep divide between the Left and Right, it is because the GOP is the Party of crooks unwilling to meet in the middle and get anything done. All RepubliKKKans want anymore is to stay in corrupt power no matter what the cost for the Earth and the rest of us
Take your "Victorian workhouse" and stuff it up your MAGA arse.

13

Here’s a better idea than taxpayer-funded eviction defense: Create a rule that a landlord whose eviction attempt fails must pay the tenant’s attorney fees.

Such a system would incentivize public-spirited lawyers to take eviction cases on contingency, so hapless tenants would never have to pay for attorneys, regardless of whether they win or lose. (If they lose, the lawyer simply doesn’t get paid.) The cost of eviction defense would be borne by unscrupulous landlords, not the taxpayers. And landlords now have an incentive to bring only the most meritorious eviction cases, for fear of having to pay the tenants’ attorney fees.

14

@11: When architected well, public housing can be really good.

15

@13 RCW 4.84.250 is already applicable to a significant number of eviction proceedings.

16

A right to council is a good thing. We have in San Francisco, and it can help tenants if shady landlords are running them out illegally. But it's not going to help you if you're not paying your rent!

17

No need to read anything w her name tagged. Pure garbage am sure. It just makes mew vomit.

18

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19

When exercising a right requires the professional skills and labor of another individual, how do you ensure everyone can exercise that right if there are not enough attorneys available to handle the caseload? Most attorneys are up for some pro bono work but if the issue is really going to be a 'tsunami' - you are gonna need a LOT of attorney pro bono time. Better start recruiting NOW.

20

And....and....the law is very specialized these days. You can't just throw any attorney at any legal problem and have it solved in a timely manner. Any attorney handling this has to have some iota of knowledge of landlord-tenant laws; not all do. So factor in training as well.

21

@12: Auntie, Auntie, Auntie.... it is clear that your head exploded the moment you read 'Victorian workhouse', and didn't read a word after that. I guess I should've posted a 'trigger warning' at the beginning and provided you with a link to your own personal 'Safe Space'.

What exactly is wrong with a facility that provides clean, dignified housing where the clients are in a supervised program that fixes the problems that made them homeless (hint: in well over half the cases, it's DRUGS), and then eases them back into society as self-sufficient, productive citizens?

I take you you prefer the current model as practiced by SHARE/WHEEL and LIHI, where they compete to collect the most vagrants like rather stinky Pokemon ('Gotta catch 'em all!) and warehouse them? A situation where there is no plan or requirement for becoming self-sufficient? Where you simply enable their poor choices?

How many of SHARE/WHEEL's and LIHI's 'Pokemonsters' have been rehabilitated to true self-sufficiency, where they no longer require handouts? You're just creating ghettoes of a permanent underclass. This is YOUR idea of 'success'?

Why not be daring and try a new approach? There is no compassion in allowing people to wallow in dependency (unless you're part of the Homeless-Industrial Complex, and making a good living from it). I thought you 'Progressives' (tm) were supposed to be the open-minded ones.

22

Any citizen charged with a crime and prosecuted by the state should be provided legal counsel, and tenants who cannot meet their rent requirements should be given amnesty until they can get back on their feet after this COVID-19 debacle. As any attorney will assure you, the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to access legal counsel for their defense in a criminal proceeding. Once again, Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant is quite prescient in her socially compassionate political orientation and should run for Mayor to clean up the mess these feral, money-grubbing business interests have made of our once lovely Citadel by the Bay, now overrun with Aegean slumlord Philistines. No wonder at all that many families are literally living on the street, due in large part to these brash, inhuman policies imposed upon us by Trumpy-Cowboy-Homophobes. Hopefully the Biden-Harris Administration can provide federal rent relief to cover the margin of needy tenants who's only real crime was to live in the era of Charles Dickens revisited, with Mayor Durkan in the vibratory role of Queen Victoria. She’s such a big, mean lezzie even her own police force decline to protect her domicile from angry citizens, such as these unfairly marginalized homeless folks, who are victims of her buzzing-vibrator harebrained policies.

23

The idea is to get out ahead of the government when they try to meddle in private business transactions between two adults. I've simply increased my screening criteria and the security deposit so high that only people with solid incomes or a strong social safety net (i.e. parents) can afford to live in my rental. Would I like to cast a wider net and perhaps let lower income people rent my house? Yes, but the downside risks of the government not letting me evict people who are either not paying rent or destroying my property outweigh the upsides.

24

@16: Right. Not paying or can't pay. This isn't 2013 in NYC, where most evictions were just attempts at getting 'less desirable' tenants out. This is going to be an actual "rent in arrears, tenant has no hope of paying" situation. The most counsel can hope to do is to hold the door open while the sheriff moves belongings onto the sidewalk.

Perhaps there needs to be some sort of long term assistance program. Where a landlord can agree to X cents on the dollar for back rent, not throw the tenant out while that tenant agrees to pay what they can, when they can. Landlords aren't going to be turning those rental units over at the full market rate if the city is full of people with empty pockets. Might as well keep the renter you know in a unit even at a reduced (subsidized) rate.