Dear Governor Inslee,

We, the undersigned, urge you to prioritize public health and safety of Washington residents by extending the eviction moratorium through March 31, 2021, and to invest deeply in the Housing Trust Fund as part of your 2021-22 budget proposal.

We thank you for recognizing the public health imperative of keeping people in their homes. New research from UCLA shows that the lifting of eviction moratoriums nationwide has accounted for 433,700 additional coronavirus cases and 10,700 excess deaths. Another report by Sheen et al. predicted that during a wave of cases at the end of 2020, similar to the one we are experiencing, the effect of evictions on case counts would be “very large.” Mass evictions are, in other words, super-spreader events.

In our state alone, more than 153,000 renters are behind on rent and vulnerable to eviction. The reality is that this crisis has been building since before the coronavirus. Because we have such a severe shortage of affordable housing, the majority of low and moderate income renters have been forced to spend over 30% of their income on rent, and 72% of extremely low income renters spend over half of their income on rent. Renters’ budgets have been squeezed by steadily rising rents for years, and any loss of income can trigger a personal financial crisis. It doesn’t have to be this way if we prioritize affordable housing in our long-term recovery.

This pandemic has further exposed our long-term underinvestment in affordable homes, and we must take this opportunity to prevent homelessness for thousands of people and to invest deeply in affordable housing. Please extend the eviction moratorium, without any harmful loopholes, until March 31, 2021, and invest $250 million into the state’s Housing Trust Fund in your 2021-22 budget proposal.

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