Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday said he intends to extend the eviction moratorium through the end of the year. He also announced $15 million in federal funding that will further assist local businesses navigating economic recovery as the COVID-19 pandemic enters its seventh month in Washington state.
The governor made the announcement during an afternoon press conference where he also noted that the moratorium extension is not expected to come with any substantial changes.
This is the third time Inslee has extended the eviction moratorium, which was first enacted in mid-March following statewide mandates for businesses and schools to close. It was set to expire on Oct. 15.
“We certainly don’t need more housing insecurity at the moment of uncertainty during this pandemic. We will have an updated proclamation on that moratorium in the days to come, with the specifics in that regard,” he said, adding later that he believes that it’s “likely that we’ll have significant pandemic in our state to some degree” through at least the end of the year.
Controversial among some landlords and Republican lawmakers, Inslee’s moratorium on evictions prohibits landlords from serving any order of eviction to tenants during this time — including on unpaid rent — with exceptions noted for property damage and danger posed to people or property.
Inslee’s order prohibits landlords from increasing rent rates or deposits for residential- and commercial-use facilities, and also prohibits them from treating unpaid rent and charges as enforceable debt at this time.
“Listening to Dr. (Anthony) Fauci and our medical advisers, and folks in the pharmaceutical and biosciences that I’ve been talking to, I think we are going to be having to work in a responsible way for the next few months,” Inslee said.
Alongside Department of Commerce Director Lisa Brown at Thursday’s online press conference, Inslee also announced a new slate of emergency assistance programs that will be funded through $15 million funneled to the state through the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
“Each of these efforts helps us respond to the unique challenges that are facing specific regions, sectors and communities in our state,” Inslee said. “We certainly need all hands on deck to help our business owners through this time. We want to keep Washingtonian workers employed and we want to strengthen our states economy to make it more equitable and resilient.”
The state had previously issued roughly $25 million in grant partnerships through the Department of Commerce to keep businesses going.
Brown said that the $15 million grant the state is set to receive is one of the largest of its kind, and noted that they’ll help three different aspects of businesses: restarting, rebuilding and pivoting, and other long-term resilience projects.
“Most of these projects come down to connecting entrepreneurs and businesses to resources,” she said. “And when I say resources I don’t just mean funding — although that of course is very, very key — but also technical assistance, linguistically and culturally appropriate information as to what to do and how to do it in a complex world of different federal and state programs.”
Inslee also addressed comments that he made at Wednesday night’s debate against Republican gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp, specifically when he called Culp’s supporters “Trumpians.”
“My opponent is a devotee, an acolyte and total follower of Donald Trump. His rallies are festooned with Trump flags — these folks, I thought, were very proud of supporting Donald Trump. They trumpet the fact that they support Donald Trump,” Inslee said. “Shoot, if somebody described me as a ‘Biden head,’ it wouldn’t break my heart.”
Since announcing his campaign, Culp has hosted many rallies across the state, against the governor’s orders against large group gatherings. Inslee described Culp’s disregard for social distancing and masking at those events as “very dangerous” and said that those meetings are sabotaging the state’s effort to curb the spread of the virus.
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