Eviction moratorium ending soon

Statewide eviction moratorium ends this month; Community Action Center provides rental assistance program

The+rental+assistance+application+process+through+the+Community+Action+Center+in+Pullman+is+relatively+easy%2C+said+Pullman+City+Councilmember+Eileen+Macoll.

ABBY SONNICHSEN

The rental assistance application process through the Community Action Center in Pullman is relatively easy, said Pullman City Councilmember Eileen Macoll.

ALEX MCCOLLUM, Evergreen reporter

The Community Action Center is able to provide rental assistance for those in need of help as the eviction moratorium ends this month.

Gov. Jay Inslee published a proclamation on Sept. 24 that extended the moratorium to the end of October. The proclamation outlines the standards for landlords to evict tenants, considering the pandemic’s continuation.

Landlords cannot evict tenants who have been unable to pay rent between Feb. 29, 2020, and July 31, 2021, unless rental assistance and eviction resolution pilot programs have been established in their county and tenants have been notified of these programs, according to the proclamation. Tenants must be notified at least 14 days before they are served an eviction notice.

Rent due after Aug. 1 is expected to be paid.

For tenants who have not paid rent between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31, landlords cannot serve an eviction unless the tenant has made a full rental payment or partial payment with an agreed-upon payment plan with their landlord, according to the proclamation.

If the tenant has a pending application for rental assistance, or the local organization to provide aid is waiting for more resources, has not opened, or is not accepting applications yet, the tenant cannot be served an eviction notice, according to the proclamation.

Pullman’s Ward 2 Councilmember Nathan Weller said he is in favor of continuing the moratorium passed Oct. 31 in Pullman.

Business closures and loss of jobs are still affecting people in Pullman. The City of Pullman should continue to help people who are struggling as best they can, he said.

 As a renter, Weller said he was fortunate to be employed and able to pay his rent.

“Not everybody is so fortunate,” he said.

Councilmember-at-large Eileen Macoll said she believes the city should end the moratorium at the same time as the governor.

Macoll said as a landlord she was fortunate her tenants were all able to continue paying rent, but a lot of other mom-and-pop landlords in Pullman were not so lucky.

The rental assistance application process through the Community Action Center in Pullman is relatively easy, she said.

The CAC has a new rental assistance program, which is easier to apply for than in the past, said Georgia Beck, CAC interim housing coordinator.

The effects of the pandemic have been heartbreaking, Beck said. Last fall and through the past few months, there were many families behind on rent. Jobs disappeared, made evident through income verification in applications.

“Thankfully there were some of these safety nets for people too,” Beck said.

Washington wanted to make the assistance more accessible for those in need, she said. The state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program has been streamlined to make the application process much easier. Physical signatures are no longer required, and the whole process can be done over the phone.

Tenants who make 80 percent or less of Whitman County’s median income are eligible to receive rental assistance, she said.

“Don’t assume that you’re over income because it is a very high ceiling for these programs. 80 percent is a lot. One person could make $40,500 a year and still qualify,” Beck said.

The fair market rent price for a one-bedroom home in Whitman County is $763. The CAC can pay up to 150 percent of this price, or $1,144, she said. If a tenant lives in a one-bedroom home with rent higher than $1,144, the CAC can only pay up to that limit.

There are also fair market rent prices for larger home sizes, Beck said. Two-bedroom, three-bedroom and larger homes have their own fair market rental prices, which can also be paid up to 150 percent.

Tenants who want to apply for rental assistance should contact their landlord or leasing company to notify them that they are applying for assistance and request their current ledger and lease, she said. Once the tenant has finished the application process, the CAC will send a payment plan for an agreement signature to the landlord or company.

An individual in a group lease can also apply for their part of the rent to be covered by the CAC, she said. Each person on a group lease can apply separately, or they can apply together.

It works differently for families, however. Everyone in the family who has an income must be included in the application process, she said.

The best thing someone in need of assistance can do is call the CAC. They can help pay up to three months forward on rent to help give tenants some breathing room, she said.

“It’s just giving them a little bit of relief and letting them know that, ‘hey, you’re going to be okay,’ we’re all in this together,” Beck said.