Mary's Place bracing for surge in homelessness as eviction moratorium nears end

Washington state may be bracing for a new wave of homeless Washingtonians as the moratorium on evictions ends at the end of December. Homeless shelters like Mary's Place are getting ready.

The nonprofit organization helped Tanya Rinker, who became homeless several years ago.

"Here I am, pregnant and a single mom, all by myself," said Rinker.

Mary's Place provided her shelter for 8 months before finding her housing just one week ago.

"I was shocked when they said, hey we got a place for you. I didn't think anybody who had what I had going on would have anything approved," said Rinker.

But Mary's Place is preparing for an onslaught of more people needing shelter as the moratorium on evictions expires at the end of the month.

"We fear the end of this eviction moratorium. What's going to happen if it is lifted? We know that there will be thousands of families that will need to leave their homes and look for shelter," said Marty Hartman, director of Mary's Place.

RELATED: Renters nervous as eviction moratorium nears end

The moratorium is keeping a roof over the heads of thousands of Washingtonians currently behind on rent during the pandemic, including families that Mary's Place have placed in housing.

"We know that 93% of them are still in their housing but about 50% are behind in their rent, anywhere from $20 to $10,000," Hartman said.

Mary's Place has started a rapid response fund to fill in some of the gaps as part of their "No Child Sleeps Outside" campaign.

That campaign helped Rinker and her 2-month old baby Bella get back on their feet. They're fortunate to be living rent-free for the next 6 months, but know other families won't be so lucky if the moratorium is lifted.

"Just stay strong because you can get through it. I did and I didn't think I could get through it but I did," said Rinker.

The governor's office says staff and stakeholders are discussing the future of the moratorium and a decision will come before the end of the month.