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Jenny Durkan, winter evictions
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Mayor Durkan spurns Seattle council’s winter eviction ban, claims it ‘provides no relief’

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan sent a recently-passed ban on winter evictions back to the Seattle City Council unsigned, putting forth her own version she feels provides stronger protections for renters.

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Durkan said she decided not to sign the bill because it “does not protect most vulnerable households at risk of evictions.”

The council’s version was scaled back from the original proposal put forth by Councilmember Kshama Sawant, reducing the period of effect from 5 to 3 months, and exempting landlords with four or fewer rental units.

That’s not the biggest problem the mayor has with it, though, claiming that any evicted tenant wouldn’t be protected outright from being evicted during winter months. Rather, tenants could use the bill as a defense if they take their case to court.

Referencing data that says “nearly half of evictions ended in a default judgment because the tenant failed to contest the eviction or appear in court,” Durkan concluded that the council’s bill “provides them no relief.”

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She instead put forth her own bill, sponsored by District 7 Councilmember Andrew Lewis. Durkan says it “invests in proven programs that actually help Seattle residents,” and will include $200,000 in funding for rent assistance.

“The legislation will also ensure that landlords give tenants notice of these programs before taking any action, and that the programs get money in the hands of people when they need it,” she detailed in a letter to the city council.

As SCC Insight’s Kevin Schofield notes, because Durkan didn’t veto the council’s legislation outright, the bill passed earlier in February will go into effect after 30 days if it remains unsigned.

Councilmember Sawant — the original sponsor of that bill — has yet to respond to Durkan’s decision. You can read the mayor’s full proposal here.

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