Everett to suspend evictions during coronavirus pandemic

Mayor Cassie Franklin has signed an emergency order protecting renters from losing their homes.

EVERETT — In a time of uncertainty, Everett tenants who can’t afford to pay rent may not lose their homes right away.

Mayor Cassie Franklin signed an emergency order on Tuesday, banning residential evictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The temporary moratorium stops landlords from evicting people for not paying rent on time. It also prohibits late fees and other fines from stacking up.

The Everett City Council will be asked to ratify the order at its Wednesday night meeting.

“We’re feeling the economic impact of the novel coronavirus throughout our community,” Franklin said in a news release. “With so many businesses closing or reducing operations to protect public health, many workers are losing wages. This is not a time for people to be losing their homes.”

On Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee ordered all bars, dine-in restaurants and other businesses to close statewide. Those rules began at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

Businesses have been suffering, some closing down for good in recent days. Others have had to lay off workers.

As of Tuesday evening, at least 1,012 cases of the new coronavirus have been reported in Washington, along with at least 52 fatalities. Of those, 266 cases involved Snohomish County residents, including five deaths.

The order will be in effect until the civic emergency has ended, though that date has not been set. Franklin can also extend the moratorium past that time.

The idea is to reduce the number of people who become homeless during the pandemic, and to help slow the spread of disease.

Everett has never had this kind of order, city spokesperson Kimberley Cline said.

Once the moratorium ends, renters and landlords would have to arrange their own payment plans, she said.

“I recognize this is also hard on landlords and businesses,” Franklin said in the release. “I’m working at the state and federal level to secure additional relief for those most impacted by this crisis.”

In the past few days, some King County cities have approved similar eviction orders, such as Seattle and Burien. King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht has also announced her office will stop enforcing residential evictions countywide for the time being.

So far, an eviction moratorium has not been set up anywhere else in Snohomish County. Some cities have made other plans.

In Lynnwood, water will not be shut off because of unpaid bills. An eviction freeze is being discussed, city spokesperson Julie Moore said.

Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson has said the city will not shut off water or sewer service through April, and there won’t be late fees.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

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