OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday he will extend the temporary ban on evictions by one month in an effort to help Washington counties distribute COVID-19 rent relief.
The moratorium on evictions has been extended and tweaked for much of the pandemic, with the current one set to expire Sept. 30.
It will now expire at the end of the day on Oct. 31, according to Inslee’s office.
The extension comes as King County has lagged in handing out federal pandemic assistance intended to help renters and landlords alike.
“This brief extension will help ensure that no one is evicted while large amounts of rental assistance funding is still available but unused,” Inslee said in a news conference.
Earlier this month, that problem brought together advocates for landlords and tenants in a rare alliance. In a letter, the groups urged County Executive Dow Constantine to make immediate changes to the emergency assistance program — and threatened to sue if the county doesn’t take action.
King County has spent about $34 million of the $145 million it received from the federal government’s most recent chunk of funding. That’s about 24% of the assistance dollars.
By comparison, Snohomish and Pierce counties have each spent more than two-thirds of their rent-relief dollars.
In a joint statement Thursday, two rental-housing groups blasted Inslee’s decision to extend the moratorium.
“This moratorium is being extended on the backs of housing providers due to government moving at a glacial pace to distribute rental assistance funds,” according to the statement by the Rental Housing Association of Washington and Washington Multi-Family Housing Association. “State and local government must work together with housing providers to prevent evictions for nonpayment of rent instead of consistently blaming housing providers for a broader societal problem.”
The governor’s announcement comes just two days after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the city’s moratorium on pandemic-related evictions has been extended through Jan. 15. That ban had also been set to expire at the end of September.