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Record No: Res 31590    Version: 1 Council Bill No:
Type: Resolution (Res) Status: Retired
Current Controlling Legislative Body City Clerk
On agenda: 9/17/2015
Ordinance No:
Title: A RESOLUTION regarding RCW 35.21.830, the prohibition of ordinances or other provisions that regulate the amount of rent.
Sponsors: Nick Licata, Kshama Sawant
Supporting documents: 1. Summary and Fiscal Note
Related files: Res 31741
CITY OF SEATTLE
RESOLUTION _________________
title
A RESOLUTION regarding RCW 35.21.830, the prohibition of ordinances or other provisions that regulate the amount of rent.
body
WHEREAS, Article 25 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes housing as a human right; and
WHEREAS, unaffordable housing in Seattle has become a crisis with apartment rents in the City of Seattle rising tremendously in recent years, including a nearly 11 percent increase between 2010-13, the highest rent increases of any major U.S. city in 2012 and 2013; and
WHEREAS, Seattle is now among the nation's ten most expensive cities, with three out of every five Seattle apartments renting in 2013 for more than $1,000 per month, and median one-bedroom rents in Seattle neighborhoods ranging from an average of $1,063 - $1,871 per month in 2014, and more than 45 percent of Seattle rental households now considered rent-burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their incomes for rent and utilities; and
WHEREAS, Seattle Housing Authority, which serves over 16,000 low-income households, reported having over 9,400 households on its waiting lists after opening its waiting list in 2013 for 24,000 people to apply for 2,000 vouchers, while the 2015 One Night Count found 3,772 unsheltered people in King County and 2,813 in Seattle, a 22 percent increase since 2014; and
WHEREAS, in 2014 investors spent an unprecedented $3.8 billion buying apartment buildings in the Greater Seattle Area, raising rents, subjecting housing to financial speculation, and depleting the affordable units in the private sector; and
WHEREAS, high rental housing costs make it more difficult for lower-income households to remain in the City, evidenced by the 2015 Washington State Housing Needs Assessment, with just 61 affordable rental housing units in the State and 34 affordable rental housing units in the City available for every 100 renter households at or below 50 percent of the median family income, and just 29 affordable rental housing units in the State and 15 affordable rental units in the City available for every 100 renter households at or below 30 percent of median family income; and  
WHEREAS, according to a City 2008 analysis of impediments to fair housing in Seattle, families who cannot afford rental housing in Seattle are more likely to leave the City for  communities with lower housing costs, and families who cannot afford rental housing in Seattle may be less likely to move into the City; and
WHEREAS, people of color comprise about one-third of Seattle's population, yet according to the three-year, 2011-2013 American Community Survey, poverty rates in Seattle were almost 38 percent for Black and African-American residents, 23 percent for Latinos, 20 percent for Asians, and 17.5 percent for multi-racial persons, compared with just ten percent for whites; and
WHEREAS, the City's 2008 analysis of impediments to fair housing in Seattle identifies these conditions as impediments to fair housing in Seattle, stating: "An inadequate supply of affordable housing in Seattle exacerbates fair housing challenges by impeding housing choice.  Seattle's robust private housing market continues to fuel migration of low-income and minority residents toward areas outside of the city as rents and home prices escalate;" and
WHEREAS, Seattle has attempted various strategies for addressing this fair housing impediment, yet the proposed 2014-2017 Consolidated Plan states that "[d]espite numerous public programs and policies to preserve and expand affordable housing, the force of the private market continues to drive a decline in housing affordability…this translates into reduced housing choice for protected classes, who are disproportionately low-income and racial minorities;" and
WHEREAS, many other U.S. cities have preserved affordability and mitigated the fair housing impacts of rent increases through rent stabilization approaches, including some of the country's largest cities, like New York City, Newark, Washington, DC, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles; and
WHEREAS, to mitigate the segregative effects of high and increasing rental housing costs on residential diversity in Seattle, including the disproportionate displacement of people of color from the city and the replacement by new white residents, Seattle could similarly benefit from a rent stabilization ordinance or other provisions that regulate rent; and
WHEREAS, RCW 35.21.830 states that "No city or town of any class may enact, maintain, or enforce ordinances or other provisions which regulate the amount of rent to be charged for single-family or multiple-unit residential rental structures or sites other than properties in public ownership, under public management, or properties providing low-income rental housing under joint public-private agreements for the financing or provision of such low-income rental housing."; NOW, THEREFORE,
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SEATTLE THAT:
Section 1.  The prohibition of ordinances or other provisions which regulate the amount of rent, as reflected in RCW 35.21.830, is an impediment to fair housing in the City of Seattle and, but for the prohibition in RCW 35.21.830, this Council would endeavor to design and enact ordinances or other provisions regulating the amount of rent appropriate to the City of Seattle.   
Section 2.  The State of Washington should repeal or modify RCW 35.21.830 so as not to remain a barrier to fair housing in Seattle or anywhere else in the State.
Section 3.  The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development should consider carefully whether an Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice or an Assessment of Fair Housing for the State of Washington that does not include an evaluation of RCW 35.21.830 and its effects on residential segregation within the State, or identify the repeal or modification of RCW 35.21.830 as a fair housing goal or priority, is consistent with the State's obligation to affirmatively further fair housing.
 
 
 
Adopted by the City Council the ____ day of ____________________, 2015, and signed by me in open session in authentication of its adoption this________ day
of ______________________, 2015.                                          
                                    _________________________________
                                    President ___________of the City Council
 
      Filed by me this ____ day of ________________________, 2015.
 
                                    ____________________________________
                  Monica Martinez Simmons, City Clerk
 
(Seal)