NEWS GLEAMS | Seattle City Council Caps Late Fees for Rental Payments

A roundup of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!

curated by Vee Hua 華婷婷

✨Gleaming This Week✨

Photo depicting Kshama Sawant speaking at a podium with red signs with white text that reads, "We Need Rent Control." A crowd of people behind her carry red or yellow signs with the same messaging.
Councilmember Kshama Sawant held a press conference before introducing rent control legislation to her committee on Sept. 23, 2019. Photo is attributed to Seattle City Council’s Flickr (under a Creative Commons, CC BY 2.0 license).

Seattle City Council Caps Late Fees for Rental Payments to $10

Today, Seattle City Council voted 7-2 to approve CB 120541, which was sponsored by Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle) with support from Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide) and Tammy Morales (District 2, South Seattle and Chinatown-International District). With the passage of the bill, which caps late fees for late rental payments to a maximum of $10 per month, Seattle joins other King County cities, like Auburn and Burien, in similar efforts.

The bill was first introduced in and passed by the Council’s Sustainability and Renters’ Rights Committee, which saw evidence that late fees do not incentivize on-time payment but only accumulate as debt that negatively impacts renters’ ability to rent in the future. They were also presented evidence that renters prioritize paying rent over all other bills due to the prospect of serious consequences, such as eviction.

Councilmembers Alex Pedersen (District 4, Northeast Seattle) and Sara Nelson (Position 9, Citywide) voted against the bill. It now heads to Mayor Bruce Harrell’s desk for final approval.

According to a 2020 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a $100 increase in rent is associated with a 9% increase in the estimated homelessness rate. A 2018 study by the Seattle Women’s Commission and the Housing Justice Project noted that around 52% of tenants evicted from housing in Seattle are behind on rent by only a month or less, and that a similar percentage of tenants evicted are People of Color.

Photo depicting a closeup of orange vegetables growing in a garden bed.
Vegetables grown at the High Point Juneau P-Patch. (Photo: Jaidev Vella)

State Fruit and Vegetable Incentives Program Receives Increased Temporary Funding

Through the recent passage of the Washington State bill SHB 1784, concerning hunger relief, recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will soon receive matching benefits to put toward fruit and vegetable purchases. Whenever a SNAP/EBT participant spends over $10 on fruits and vegetables in a single transaction using their SNAP or EBT card, they will receive an additional $10 in SNAP Produce Match funds, which they can then use toward future fruits and vegetables purchases.

According to a press release from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), the program includes a total of $2 million in funding for the DOH’s Fruit and Vegetable Incentives Program, which “will increase the SNAP Produce Match benefit from $5 for every $10 spent on eligible fruits and vegetables at grocery stores and online, to $10 for every $10 spent on eligible fruits and vegetables through June 30.”

A handy tool on the DOH website includes maps and FAQs on the 215 grocery stores across the state that are participating in the SNAP Produce Match program, including participating online retailers, such as Amazon Fresh and Safeway. 

Low-income individuals who wish to learn more about SNAP can visit the State’s website for eligibility and information.

Photo depicting the top of an archway in the Chinatown-International District.
Chinatown-International District. (Photo: Jaidev Vella)

Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs Seeking Candidates

Through April 28, the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (CAPAA) will be accepting applications for new candidates — from diverse Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (ANHPI) communities — to join the 12-member state commission and represent ANHPI interests across the state.

CAPAA works in partnership with local communities, the governor, state leaders, and state agencies to increase ANHPI representation and participation in “fields of government business, education, and other areas” (Chapter 43.117 RCW). According to its website, its focus is to “ensure community voices are heard in state government; inform communities about laws and policies that affect their well-being; [and] advocate for policies and services that support the unique needs of our communities.”

Commissioners are appointed by the governor and can serve a maximum of three terms, each with a duration of three years. Each is expected to attend public board meetings and participate in one of the group’s subcommittees, which are focused on topics of Civil Rights & Immigration, Economic Development, Health & Human Services, and Education.

More information on how to apply and expectations for participation can be found on the CAPAA website. Applications must be submitted online by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 28, 2023. They will be considered on a rolling basis.

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