Court rules for tenants
Life may be getting a little easier for Seattle’s beleaguered tenants.
The Washington State Supreme Court upheld a city ordinance that has been caught up in this court case since its 2016 inception and requires landlords to provide screening criteria to applicants and then accept the first person who meets those criteria.
The “first-in-time” law could better protect people who have been historically discriminated against in housing, such as people of color.
The Rental Housing Association of Washington sued the city over the first-in-time ordinance and a second piece of legislation that would prohibit landlords from looking at an applicant’s criminal history in most cases. That law is heading for federal court after the state Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the city’s power to regulate property use.
While the ordinance does require landlords to accept applicants who meet their criteria, it does not instruct landlords on what those criteria should be.
The ordinance was first introduced in 2016, making the changes to renting in Seattle more than three years in the making.
Home sweet home
A nonprofit program meant to prevent evictions has kept more than 400 households in their homes between its April launch and October, according to the United Way of King County.
Their Home Base program offers one-time financial aid and legal assistance to tenants facing eviction. So far, Home Base has helped 1,296 households through the eviction legal process. Eviction is a significant contributor to homelessness because it makes it that much harder for an individual or family to get new housing.
People can be evicted over as little as missing $100 or less in rent, according to a study by the King County’s Housing Justice Project and Seattle’s Women’s Commission. Although a state law meant to prevent evictions lengthened the time before an individual or family found itself on the street, landlord groups have advised landlords to give notice quicker to compensate for the longer amount of time, according to Tacoma’s News Tribune.
Breaking down barriers
Two Muslim women won local elections at the beginning of November — a first in Washington state.
Varisha Khan and Zahra Roach ran for city council positions in Redmond and Pasco, respectively. Their election, once the results are certified, would be historic in a state where no Muslim women have ever been elected.
Their election to public office comes at a time when Islamophobia is rampant, hate crimes are high and — according to the Southern Poverty Law Center — a racist is making policy in the halls of power in the White House.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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