Effort to extend Seattle COVID eviction moratorium fails

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle City Council has declined to extend a the city’s COVID-19 emergency ban on residential evictions.

Earlier this month, Mayor Bruce Harrell chose to end the ban Feb. 28, after nearly two years, prompting a resolution introduced last week by Councilmember Kshama Sawant that would have extended the moratorium indefinitely.

The Seattle Times reports the resolution failed 5-3 Tuesday, with Sawant, Councilmember Lisa Herbold and Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda supporting the effort. Council President Debora Juarez and Councilmembers Andrew Lewis, Sara Nelson, Alex Pedersen and Dan Strauss voted against the resolution. Councilmember Tammy Morales was on an excused absence.

A last-minute amendment by Herbold, which would have extended the moratorium through April 30, thus giving council members time find alternatives to address those facing eviction, also failed 5-3, with just Herbold, Mosqueda and Strauss in favor.

With no council action Tuesday, the moratorium will end Monday, allowing evictions to resume on March 1 in many cases, though a slew of other council protections passed throughout the pandemic provide some safeguards for renters facing financial burden.

The city still has $25 million of the $59 million allocated for rental assistance in 2021, available for renters and landlords facing financial difficulty during the pandemic. Harrell and multiple council members have said rental assistance is the primary defense against an uptick in evictions after the moratorium is lifted.