The COVID-19 pandemic has created an economic disaster that puts our BIPOC communities at risk for disaster gentrification again: thousands of homes are at imminent risk of foreclosure while hundreds of thousands of renters are at risk for eviction. Meanwhile, corporate landlords have amassed hundreds of billions of dollars and are poised to take advantage of our vulnerability. Just as disaster can have a multiplier effect on our communities—increasing loss of housing, stability, wealth and widening racial disparity—local governments can pass policies that stabilize, build resilience, and repair historic harm.–Puget Sound SAGE
As Council member Sawant highlighted in the recent rally for Rent Control, we are on the verge of another housing crisis when the moratorium on evictions ends.
In Washington State landlords were allowed to end month-to-month leases with 20 days’ notice, without providing a reason, great for real estate investors flipping houses, but not for people in the midst of a pandemic generated economic crisis. Homelessness threatens already marginalized people the most. The eviction moratorium expires in June.
The Sage Report on Disaster Gentrification Outlines critical steps to take now:
To tackle this crisis, local governments should take the following actions:
- Reduce evictions and foreclosures by forgiving rent debt, extending the eviction and foreclosure moratoria, and making rent relief contingent on increased tenant protections;
- Create opportunity for BIPOC communities to secure land and buildings to preserve affordability by robustly funding acquisition and preservation funds;
- Increase BIPOC power in planning and development by establishing local planning and accountability through equitable development zones;
- Preserve affordability and create a path for tenant ownership by passing a Tenant/Community Opportunity to Purchase Act;
- Stop harassment of vulnerable homeowners by creating non-Solicitation/cease and desist zones;
- Discourage property flipping for profit through a tax on certain real estate transactions.