Affordability continues to be an issue in and around Seattle. Fortunately, there are programs in place that help people who otherwise couldn’t live close to their jobs. Unfortunately, financial help isn’t enough. Dozens of people in Renton recently were told their leases were being terminated. They were all Section 8 tenants. As KCTS reported;
“Of the people who received Section 8 non-lease renewals, over 90 percent were African American single mothers“ - KCTS
Section 8 is a federally funded housing program that helps people afford their rent. The tenants pay up to 30 percent of their income as rent and the program covers the rest. While much of the conversation about affordability centers on Seattle, the issue is fanning out through the region, including Renton.
Seattle has protections against such evictions. Not all cities do. Renton didn’t, for a while. Because the evictions were so predominantly African-American single mothers, federal housing laws also provide protections. Between media and legal exposure, the lease terminations were rescinded.
That doesn’t mean the problem has gone away, and it doesn’t mean it only can happen in Renton. Affordability frequently collides with profitability and apartment owners are in the business to produce a profit by providing a service. They have strong financial incentives to raise their rents. The search for equally equitable solutions continues.
Even within Renton there’s far more demand than supply.
“The Renton Housing Authority currently has a wait list of 1,750 people for the 415 vouchers it has under its jurisdiction, pulling about 30 to 40 people each year from the wait list.“ - KCTS
As long as rents are rising faster than wages, there will be more Section 8 and other low-income tenants who will have to be on guard and aware of their rights, protections, and resources.