Seattle City Council passed Resolution 31669, affirming their support for federal guidance developed by The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) addressing how landlords screen applicants based on their criminal history. HUD calls for individualized tenant screenings so individual circumstances are considered by the landlord, instead of unilaterally disqualifying every applicant with a criminal record.
People who have criminal convictions face lifelong discrimination and exclusion. Unfortunately, many people are denied housing opportunities immediately if any criminal record shows up, even when the charges are non-violent or several years old - and this is contributing to our housing crisis.
Because of systemic racism in the criminal justice system, people of color are vastly over-represented among people with a criminal record. When landlords discriminate against people with a criminal record, it most impacts families of color, and reinforces the exclusion and disinvestment in communities of color. People should have the opportunity to demonstrate that they are otherwise qualified tenants.
Incarceration in Washington is a revolving door: 28% of people released from prison are rearrested within three years because of the discrimination people face in accessing housing, employment, and social services. People coming out of prison need access to stable housing to reestablish themselves socially and economically.
Landlords have an obligation to provide equitable housing without discrimination. As business owners governing a human right, landlords should be held to the same high standard Seattle currently holds employers when it comes to hiring employees by banning the box from job applications - let's do the same for rental applications! We should not live in a society that forces people to continually pay for a mistake - ensuring people aren’t discriminated against because of a criminal record is a good first step towards this goal.
The Seattle City Council made a step in the right direction passing this resolution, but our community still needs stronger legislation. We look forward to an actual ordinance that narrowly limits when a landlord can consider a criminal record - and strong consequences for landlords who fail to meet this requirement.
(Click here to read the City Council's press release)
Today, the Seattle City Council voted 8-0 to pass the Carl Haglund Law. This ordinance, CB 118678 will prevent landlords from raising rents on units with code violations. Landlords have a basic obligation to their tenants to provide safe and health housing, yet some landlords do not meet this obligation. These slumlords let their units fall into disrepair and then raise rents to displace vulnerable tenants - disproportionately people of color and women - in order to displace their tenants and redevelop the property. With this ordinance, slumlords will face steep consequences to code violations (with actual enforcement), and tenants won't be price gouged for unsafe and unhealthy housing. To hear more about the ordinance, check out this Seattle Times article.
Our fight does not stop here. If you are facing problems with renting in Seattle, especially facing problems with the high move-in costs associated with renting (such as paying for first month, last month, and security deposit all at once), please email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.
In a city where over half of the population rents, some landlords do not meet their obligations to their tenants. These slumlords let their units fall into disrepair, creating unsafe and unhealthy environments for many tenants. Then, often in an attempt to displace people with low-incomes and people of color, slumlords will dramatically increase their rent so they can economically evict their tenants without repercussion. We need our city council members to stop these landlords from profiting off the backs of disenfranchised communities.
The Seattle City Council is considering an ordinance, CB 118678 (also known as the "Carl Haglund Law"), would prevent landlords from raising rents on units that do not meet code requirements. Further, this bill has strong enforcement measures to ensure slumlords are held accountable. Show the city council that you support this ordinance - send them an email!