Seattle passes rent and mortgage relief resolution

SEATTLE -- The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on Governor Jay Inslee, federal legislators, and the White House administration to place a moratorium on rent and mortgage payments for homes and businesses.

The resolution was introduced by Councilmember Tammy Morales who represents District 2, South Seattle and the CID.

“I hate to say it, but we’re in for several months or longer of people being in crisis,” said Morales. “We need to make sure that our mom-and-pop business owners, our neighbors down the street, your sister who just got laid off are also getting the relief they need to weather this crisis.”

Jasper Rose started the Facebook page “Seattle Rent Strike,” after seeing an international movement of people calling for financial aid after losing their ability to earn income.

“We have been mandated to stay home, but still required to pay our bills and our rent,” said Rose. “Those that are living paycheck to paycheck don’t have any of that wiggle room. We don’t have a cushion. We don’t have that savings.”

Amy Wolf is a licensed massage therapist and runs Westwood Healing Arts.

“I cannot do massage over Zoom,” said Wolf. “Acupuncturists, chiropractors and massage therapists are still allowed to practice now but most of us are choosing to shut down because we don’t want to be responsible for hurting anyone.” Wolf said her landlord is giving her two weeks to come up with funds to pay rent. So, she’s considering a job at Safeway since the grocer is hiring.

“What I can do is put my life at risk and put myself on the front line and get some income,” said Wolf.

The Seattle resolution calls for a rent freeze, so all rent due is forgiven. It calls for that same kind of relief with mortgage payments.

According to city officials, nearly 50 percent of Seattle area renters are rent-burdened, which means they are experiencing a loss of income and accumulating significant amounts of personal debt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morales said this is a nationwide effort, with elected leaders in California and New York also calling for housing relief for renters, landlords, and homeowners.