New Data Shows King County Renters are Less Than Three Months Behind on Rent
New data released by King County shows that while the breadth of people behind on rent is historically high, the depth of the challenge may not be as big as many thought. The data demonstrates that unemployment insurance, rental assistance, and other relief has prevented the worst of the predictions about housing providers and renters.
According to the County, almost 9,000 renters in need of rental assistance received an average of 2.93 months of rental assistance, assuming all units are one-bedroom units. The average rental assistance required to bring them current on housing payments was $4,084. As part of the deal to accept rental assistance, housing providers wrote off an average of $1,021 per resident.
Rolling Averages and Rental Assistance Totals
Source: King County
Housing experts and advocates have known for years that rental assistance is the quickest, most equitable, and fairest way to support residents who are behind on rent while ensuring that housing providers can meet their obligations. A 2020 report from the City of Seattle proves rental assistance prevents eviction. The Seattle Housing Levy assisted 555 households at imminent risk of eviction by providing on average $1,420 per household. Of these households receiving assistance 98% were housing stable 6 months after receiving assistance.
As state and federal policymakers debate COVID-19 relief bills, rental assistance should be their primary focus. Extraneous policies that restrict the rental market, impose hardships for affordable housing providers, and increase the cost of rental housing are distractions and harmful to our recovery.
We continue to be in an emergency situation. Rental assistance needs to be as easy to access as possible. State and local governments should reduce as much red tape and barriers as they can. Additionally, rental assistance should be made available prior to the eviction process to avoid undue stress, hardship, and wasted time for residents and housing providers.