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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Rep. Pettigrew Bill Hung Up in Senate. Again.

posted by on February 7 at 13:50 PM

Earlier this session, I reported on this bill, writing:

Meanwhile, housing and civil rights activists owe thanks to Slog-fave Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-37, South Seattle) who’s bringing a bill to a vote on the house floor this Friday that will prevent landlords from discriminating against Section 8 tenants (i.e., not renting to them.) The practice—often a cover for racism—is illegal in Seattle, but it’s a problem in south King County and the rest of the state where it’s a-okay.

Section 8 vouchers work like this: Low-income renters who qualify pay 30 percent of their income on rent and the vouchers cover the difference in the total.

The Pettigrew bill passed the house last year, but got killed in the senate by some crummy amendments that caused the sponsors to drop the whole thing.

Well, the bill passed the House again this year (by a landslide), but once again, it’s stalled in the Senate.

Seattle Sens. Adam Kline (D-37, South Seattle) is championing the bill in the judiciary committee, which he chairs.

However, liberal lobbyists advocating for the bill—who I ran into in the exciting cafeteria lobby (pictured below!)—report that the Democratic vice chair, Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Eastside Seattle Suburbs) is against the bill, effectively giving the GOP enough votes on the committee to kill it.

I’m waiting for a call back from Tom, a realtor with several Windermere Real Estate donors on his contributor list plus a maximum $700 contribution from the Washington Realtors Assn., to hear what his reservations are.


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I've had a Section 8 voucher for six years and am a registered Democrat. But I disagree with forcing landlords to accept vouchers.

What changed my thinking was what I learned when I tried to move to Ventura County, California, last January (2007). They were the only county with an open list and I wanted to move from Colorado to be closer to UCLA's medical center. After being turned down by a few landlords, and after realizing the housing authority case manager seemed "infinitely available" to me (mine is always horrendously busy), I started asking prospective landlords for information. I learned that someone in HUD had embezzled a hugh sum of money from HUD Ventura. Their solution was to freeze rents on existing Section 8 tenants -- at the same time that housing was skyrocketing in the area. This meant that the landlords who had freely agreed to accept these tenants, were not allowed to raise rents as the market was rising.

I had no idea that landlords had this exposure. I assumed the extent of their liability in accepting vouchers was the extra paperwork, inspections, etc. They certainly have to put out extra effort in the case of a Section 8 tenant than they do with other tenants.

This legislation won't fix the problem. What I found in California last year is that most of the apartments had rents set just enough above the Fair Market Rent standard to make it impossible for me to find a place to live.

That's okay, California is a zoo anyway!

Posted by Catherine Beckman | February 7, 2008 11:34 PM

The bill 1956 does not force landlords to accept Section 8 tenants. What it does is give Section 8 tenants the opportunity to qualify for housing along with everyone else.

This is not a futile attempt to keep people from being homeless. To support this bill is to be hopeful and move in a positive direction to keep housing affordable.

This bill is not rent control. Like the prior post states, landlords are perfectly free to raise their rents.

Even though I have a good rental history, no criminal record, a steady income, and clean credit, I was not allowed to even apply for an apartment after over 70 phone calls and emails.

I wasn't even given a chance. Here in the USA, not even free to put in an application!

Imagine being homeless and living in your van in the middle of winter then finally getting a Housing Voucher only to almost loose it and end up being homeless until God knows when?

Imagine hearing "We don't accept Section 8" over and over again and not being able to do anything about it.

Thank God I found an apartment and am no longer living in my van. However, the frustration and trauma I endured can be focused for into doing good. And that positive change is in bill 1956.

Posted by Chris | February 9, 2008 12:08 AM

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