OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday he would extend the existing moratorium on evictions in light of the economic downturn sparked by the new coronavirus.
The extension will keep the moratorium in place through Dec. 31.
In a news conference Thursday, Inslee said more details would be released next week, but he didn’t expect major changes from the current version.
“We certainly don’t need more housing insecurity in the moment of uncertainty during this pandemic,” Inslee said.
The latest version of the moratorium — which has been extended and modified a few times — was set to expire Oct. 15. It does not get rid of debt from past-due rent.
The updated eviction moratorium orders had added a freeze on residential rent levels, and allowed some evictions — such as for property damage — to move forward. Another update allowed some rent increases on commercial properties.
The announcement comes as residents continue to grapple with the pandemic and restrictions intended to curb outbreaks.
The moratorium still faces a legal challenge by a group of Seattle landlords who are suing both Inslee and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan over the constitutionality of the state and city moratoriums.
Inslee said assistance for landlords — some of whom have also been struggling — could happen at some point. But “our ability to do so is somewhat dependent to see if Congress acts” on a federal relief package that has been stalled, he said.
The governor Thursday also announced $15 million in federal grant money to help businesses struggling amid the virus downturn.
The grants include money for restarting and rebuilding businesses, state Commerce Director Lisa Brown said at the news conference. Also included is a pilot project intended to detect and protect against outbreaks in the fishing industry, she said.