Since the first death from the coronavirus was reported in the Puget Sound region at the end of February, Washington state has seen more than 300,000 jobs disappear. Currently, the unemployment rate stands at 9.8% for June, more than double compared to a year ago. 

But so far, thanks to local and state housing protections, including the current statewide eviction moratorium, Washington has yet to experience a surge of evictions. But what’s going to happen when these protections go away? 

As the global pandemic rages on and as economic indicators continue to point downward, many are beginning to ask: Will Washington see a tidal wave of evictions? If so, what can people do and what resources are available to help?

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

The Seattle Times’ Project Homeless team held a virtual panel discussion Tuesday to examine the current housing landscape and discuss what’s to come with four area experts:   

  • Edmund Witter is the senior managing attorney of the Housing Justice Project at the King County Bar Association. The Housing Justice Project works to prevent homelessness by offering legal services for low-income tenants facing eviction in King County.
  • Lauren McGowan is senior director of ending homelessness and poverty at United Way of King County. She oversees United Way’s Home Base rental assistance program, which saw a surge of applications at the start of the pandemic. 
  • Brett Frank-Looney is a third-generation rental property owner in Seattle. He operates Frank Family Properties, which manages approximately 100 rental units in the city, with his mother, Dana Frank, and his grandmother, Theresa Frank. 
  • Gina Owens is a board member at the Washington Community Action Network. She also sits on the Seattle Renters’ Commission, which advises Seattle’s city government on various rental and eviction issues to help inform policy decisions.

The Seattle Times’ Project Homeless is funded by BECU, The Bernier McCaw Foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Campion Foundation, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Raikes Foundation, Schultz Family Foundation, Seattle Foundation, Starbucks and the University of Washington. The Seattle Times maintains editorial control over Project Homeless content.