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I thank the Mayor for his recently stated concern about the proliferation of rent increases, I share that concern and agree with him that we must do something.
A related issue we should immediately address is the need to increase assistance under the City’s Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance, received by low-income renters who have to move from housing that is being renovated or demolished. When I led the Council to make changes to that law in 1998, an escalator clause was included to allow the Director of the Department of Planning and Development to make yearly increases to the relocation assistance to low-income renters. The DPD Director has not made those yearly increases since 2008. The current amount of assistance is approximately $3,000, half paid by the property owner and half by the City. That sum barely covers the costs of first and last month’s rent in an average Seattle apartment, much less a security deposit, and physical moving costs.
I look forward to working with the Mayor to institute this change quickly and working with the Council to fund the city share of the assistance in this year’s budget. I don’t know if it can happen quickly enough to help renters like those we’ve heard about recently at the Lockhaven apartments, but it will help others in the future.