Sen. Annette Cleveland believes the city of Vancouver could serve as a statewide example of one way to ease the affordable housing crisis.
“We are all aware, in this state and around this nation, we’re facing a housing crisis. It’s affecting individuals and families and our children,” Cleveland testified to members of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee on Tuesday. “Many cities within the state of Washington, including my own of Vancouver, have grappled with positive ways we might improve this dire situation.”
Cleveland is championing Senate Bill 5408, which would require landlords to give an extra 10 days’ written notice before eviction, bumping the 20-day period to 30 days. For tenants who have rented for more than two years, that would increase to 60 days. The measure, if passed, would apply statewide. The city of Vancouver increased its current vacate notice period from 20 days to 60 days in 2015.
Vancouver City Councilor Alishia Topper testified in Olympia that increasing the time renters have to vacate has proved effective.
“It was a compromise and a common-sense approach to prevent homelessness,” Topper said.
Vancouver resident Dominique Horn also testified in Olympia in favor of the measure.
“Think about how much it takes to move, on top of having your job, on top of feeding your children, on top of keeping up on their activities. Two weeks is not enough,” Horn said. “It’s not enough to find a place, it’s not enough to pack your stuff. … I know if I received a 20-day notice today, I would be homeless in 20 days. I wouldn’t be able to get into housing. My kids’ school would be disrupted.”
But Bill Hinkle with the Rental Housing Association of Washington said too many housing policies are based on anecdotal evidence. He noted that other cities, such as Seattle, have passed similar statutes, and the homeless population continues to grow.
“This is more of the same kind of policy that doesn’t work,” he said.
Hinkle asserted that the problem is with record low vacancy rates and the solution is to build more units and improve the ease in which tenants and landlords can work together.
“How many times has a senior citizen been asked to move out quickly? We don’t have the data. Is (the policy) working? Has it decreased homelessness? Has it increased affordable housing? And I would argue that it hasn’t. Let’s look at stuff that works, not stuff that makes us feel better,” Hinkle said, adding that the legislation could result in landlords’ requiring a two-month deposit and passing on more costs to renters.