Sep. 23—OLYMPIA — Washington's eviction moratorium "bridge" program, set to expire next week, will be extended one month, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday.
The program will now end at 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 31, giving counties one more month to hand out rental assistance and set up eviction resolution and right-to-counsel programs.
"This will help ensure no one's evicted while large amounts of rental assistance funding is available but unused," Inslee said.
Inslee announced the program in June to ease counties, renters and landlords out of a full eviction moratorium and transition the state toward new housing stability programs passed by the Legislature last year.
There is no change to the actual moratorium, according to the governor's office.
The plan allows non-payment evictions for past rent to move forward, but only if certain conditions are met in the county. A county must have in place operational rental assistance, eviction resolution and right-to-counsel programs as passed by the Legislature this year. The eviction resolution program first piloted late last year attempts to help renters and landlords solve disputes using resolution, legal aid and rental assistance.
When evictions resume, renters still have options if they cannot pay rent in the future or past rent owed. They can seek rental assistance or negotiate a reasonable repayment plan with their landlord. To avoid eviction, tenants must respond to an eviction notice within 14 days with either proof of a rental assistance application or a reasonable repayment plan as settled with their landlord.
Despite the bridge, counties have still struggled to get out rental assistance in a timely fashion. The governor's office said this extension will give "counties around the state more time to get relief funds out the door to help more renters."
Inslee said he believes counties will soon be able to move more quickly getting the money out in part because the federal government has recently streamlined the process for counties to do so.
Counties also have made progress setting up the rental assistance programs, Inslee said, noting that 27 of the 39 counties now have the eviction resolution program in place. Spokane is among them.
He said he did not think there would be another extension after the end of October.
"We think this extension provides ample time," Inslee said.
Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper's managing editor.