Edmonds council moves to ‘prevent unnecessary evictions’

An emergency ordinance was passed Tuesday with the aim of helping fill a gap in eviction protection.

EDMONDS — Edmonds renters now have an additional layer of eviction protection through Sept. 30.

On Tuesday, the Edmonds City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that added a prerequisite on evictions and declared an emergency. The ordinance is not a moratorium on evictions.

“I think it’s the minimum we can do to try to prevent unnecessary evictions,” Councilmember Laura Johnson said during the meeting.

The ordinance, drafted by Councilmember Luke Distelhorst, states that landlords cannot move to evict tenants unless they have considered alternative funding sources, or provided written evidence to the Human Services Division of the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services, or the tenant’s actions constitute an imminent threat to the health and safety of the landlord or neighbors.

Distelhorst’s work to help residents stay in their homes began back in March 2020, when he drafted the city’s eviction moratorium. In the absence of an update from Gov. Jay Inslee about the state’s current moratorium — set to expire on June 30 — Distelhorst got back to work on an emergency ordinance.

“Given that this was our last meeting before June 30 … I felt like it was really imperative that our city council continue to provide some protection for tenants and also trying to connect landlords to the money that we know is available in our county,” Distelhorst said after the meeting.

Rental assistance requests are currently the most-sought form of support from the city’s Human Services Department and, according to Washington 211, housing and shelter accounted for nearly a quarter of all service requests in ZIP codes 98020 and 98026 over the past 30 days.

The ordinance aims to connect both renters and landlords with the city’s Human Services Department, where they can learn how to access funds available through Volunteers of America Western Washington and potentially future American Rescue Plan funds.

“It’s ultimately up to the landlord to determine whether those alternative funding sources are sufficient to cure the tenants’ non-payment of rent,” City Attorney Jeff Taraday said during the meeting.

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; isabella.breda@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @BredaIsabella.

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