With eviction moratorium up, renters have until August to make a plan

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Before the state eviction moratorium ended July 1, governor Jay Inslee announced a two-month “bridge” transition before tenants can be kicked out for past due rent. Under the proclamation, those who are working with their landlords and seeking financial assistance cannot be evicted until September 30, according to a June 29 media release from the governor’s office.

With the moratorium lifted in August, renters are expected to pay rent in full. If unable, renters must negotiate a reduced rent with their landlord or actively seek assistance, according to the governor’s office.

“COVID has had a significant economic impact on our state and a lot of Washingtonians are still experiencing financial hardships,” Inslee said in a statement. “This bridge creates reasonable steps and will help ensure that renters have the opportunity to receive support and resources that are available to them and that the Legislature intended to be in place to help both landlords and tenants.”

Another requirement in the governor’s proclamation is that landlords must offer a reasonable repayment plan for tenants in arrears. Landlords and tenants are encouraged to utilize rental assistance to payback any Covid-19 related past due rent.

The state Department of Commerce released $500 million to local governments for rental assistance that, according to the governor’s office, will help more than 80,000 landlords and renters.

An additional $650 million federal relief dollars have been allocated for assistance and to establish assistance programs, like the eviction resolution pilot program. This program will assign a professional to mediate tenants and landlords before an eviction lawsuit is filed and is currently only available to six counties, not including Whatcom, but more counties will be added soon. 

The governor’s office intended for these programs to be established by the time the eviction moratorium ended July 1, but funding was not yet distributed.

As for Whatcom County, Dan DeMent, executive director for the Community Assistance Program (CAP), says the Opportunity Council is the place to go for rental assistance. While the CAP helps Blaine and Birch Bay residents behind on their utility bills, they do not help with rent. “The Opportunity Council would be where we would send people,” DeMent said.

The Opportunity Council provides limited financial assistance for rent and utilities. Due to high demand, appointments are limited each month and are already full for July.

Applications open again at 8 a.m. on Monday, August 2, according to the website. For more information or to apply, visit oppco.org/basic-needs/housing/help-with-rent.

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