Inslee issues housing stability "bridge" proclamation
Gov. Jay Inslee last Tuesday (July 29) issued a housing stability 'bridge' emergency order, proclamation 21-09, intended to bridge the operational gap between the eviction moratorium (expired at 11:59 PM June 30) enacted by prior proclamations and the protections and programs subsequently enacted by the Legislature. The bridge, which was initially announced last week, will also reduce uncertainty as the state implements post-COVID long-term housing recovery strategies contained in legislative enactments such as SB 5160.
"COVID has created a significant economic impact on our state and many Washingtonians are still experiencing financial hardships. This bridge creates reasonable steps that will help ensure that renters have the opportunity to receive support and resources available to them and that the Legislature intended to be in place to help both landlords and tenants," Inslee said.
Recent legislative actions include appropriating an additional $650 million for landlord and tenant rental assistance and also establishing certain programs, like the eviction resolution pilot program, which were intended to be in place after the eviction moratorium ends. However, the funding has not yet been disbursed and these programs are not yet operational statewide.
In response to this unintended gap, this order requires, among other things, that:
- Landlords and tenants avail themselves of rental assistance and eviction resolution pilot programs pursuant to SB 5160 to resolve any COVID-related past due rent (February 29, 2020 through July 31, 2021);
- Tenants take steps to pay rent or avail themselves of rental assistance in order to pay future rent (beginning August 1, 2021 throughout the effective dates of this order);
- For any tenant who is or becomes in arrears, landlords offer a reasonable repayment plan to tenants per SB 5160; and
- Tenants respond to notice of funding and other available programs within the timeframes established by SB 5160.
In short, an eviction for non-payment of past due rent is not permitted until such time as the resources and programs established by the Legislature are in place and operational, and eviction for non-payment of future rent (August 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021) is not permitted if the tenant has demonstrably taken action to pay rent. Evictions for other reasons allowed under state law are permitted.
In addition, although late fees are prohibited, rent increases are permitted as provided under state law (RCW 59.18.140).
Finally, the non-traditional and other transient housing previously covered by the eviction moratorium are not included in this order, including hotels/motels, Airbnbs, and camping areas.
This order is effective July 1, and remains in effect until 11:59 PM on September 30.
Higher Ed Vaccination Requirements
Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee updated the existing emergency order addressing institutions of higher education, Proclamation 20-12.3. The updates clarify the requirements for fully vaccinated campuses and for campuses that are not fully vaccinated. The order goes into effect on July 1, 2021, and will remain in effect until rescinded or otherwise amended.
Agricultural Worker Updates
Gov. Jay Inslee last Thursday amended Proclamation 20-25, Washington Ready (formerly known as "Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery") to update the statewide guidance and requirements for moving forward. The order reflects the general rules for moving forward after June 30, 2021, including the ongoing face covering requirement. The order remains in effect until amended or rescinded or until the state of emergency is ended.
As part of moving forward, the governor also rescinded Proclamation 20-57, which prohibited agricultural employers from operating unless they comply with certain worker guidelines. The rescission is effective immediately and is meant to align agricultural workplaces with the other industries covered under Proclamation 20-25, et seq. Termination of this emergency order does not impact any agency rule concerning temporary worker housing, or any other COVID-19 health and safety requirement directed by the governor, the Department of Labor & Industries, or the Department of Health.