What We’re Reading: Rent Crisis, Still Counting, and Help Needed


Reducing poverty: Forty-four European cities are pledging €14 billion in funding to alleviate poverty and social exclusion.

Rent crisis: Overdue rent is piling up and could balloon to $34 billion nationally by the new year. Katie Wilson says that Washington renters need assistance before eviction moratoriums lift.

Wrong way: Road fatalities have hit a 15-year high.

Lincoln Land GND: What could an Illinois Green New Deal look like?

New SoS needed: Washington’s secretary of state has a faulty voter registration system that is delaying some voters from completing the registration system.

Austin expansion plans: What does Austin’s trimmed down transit expansion proposal look like?

Vote for Democrats: Without federal assistance, three million American households could lose access to transit.

Slow progress: California’s governor has signed a bunch of housing and sustainable transportation bills into law.

More than EVs: We’re going to need to do a lot more than electrifying cars to fix climate-related transportation impacts.

Still counting: The Census Bureau will keep counting through the end of October.

Drawing bridges: Meet the artists making comics in Seattle’s historic drawbridges.

Here to stay?: Outdoor dining allowances in Philadelphia could remain in place uninterrupted through 2021.

Regressive business interests: Big business has come out swinging against Portland’s progressive transportation funding package.

Just recovery: Transportation Choices Coalition leader, Alex Hudson, lays out her ideas for a just transportation recovery.

Help needed: In a joint article, Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz says that Washington cannot contain wildfires without help from the state and federal governments.

Tax them: Boeing continues its treacherous business and poor management practices with pull-out of 787 plane manufacturing in Washington to South Carolina ($).

New high: Bike commuting hit a new all-time high in Seattle in 2019.

Wrong direction: Strong Towns explains how Wisconsin’s $1 billion I-94 expansion in Milwaukee is going in the wrong direction.

Devastating impacts: Climate change’s deleterious impacts could come to Oahu, leading to a 40% loss of beaches by 2050.

High WFH rate: Almost half of all adults working in the Seattle area are working from home ($).

Fighting back: The Yakima Nation is valiantly trying to block a new gravel mining pit near a historic village and sacred burial grounds.

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Stephen is an urban planner with a passion for sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He is especially interested in how policies, regulations, and programs can promote positive outcomes for communities. Stephen lives in Kenmore and primarily covers land use and transportation issues for The Urbanist.

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Daniel Thompson

I think more than a rent crisis it is an eviction crisis. Once the moratoria on evictions are lifted the wave of evicted and homeless tenants could be considerable, and overwhelm already overwhelmed social and housing services.

Personally I agree with one proposal in the Cross Cut article in which governments reimburse landlords a percentage of the unpaid or underpaid rent. However I would condition the payment on a release from further liability of the tenant, and would condition the percentage of rent reimbursement on whether the tenant stays housed, and for how long. It is much easier to keep someone housed rather than rehouse them once evicted.

There is always the risk a tenant could have paid more rent but gamed the moratoria on evictions, but my guess is that is a very small percentage.

Of course the bigger risk is many jobs never return at all, and rent abatement does not solve long term unemployment and housing.

Rather than block grants to cities and states under another stimulus bill I would concentrate federal relief funds on rent abatement, which would relieve cities from the cost and help prevent a true housing crisis as millions are evicted, and don’t have first/last/deposit, and no landlord skips deposit for low income rentals, especially if criminal background checks are prohibited (or switches to Airbnb)..

While the other articles are a progressive’s Christmas wish list, I think the long term effects of Covid-19 and working from home — and the3 exodus from Seattle by business that began before Covid-19 — will make most of them financially impractical. If the goal is to sell new urbanism to the eastside I think Seattle is a very poor role model. Better to make new urbanism work in Seattle first.

The long cherished goal of living closer to work and reducing carbon emissions during work commutes looks like it will finally come true, except in the suburbs, if working from home becomes permanent which is looks like it will from least renegotiations in Seattle right now, and the home office deduction for employees working from home. Nothing beats reducing carbon emissions like no transit or commute. This will shift a great deal of general tax revenue from Seattle to the surrounding cities and suburbs, and decimate service jobs in Seattle.

Great for the environment and the suburban employee, and the employer who needs less expensive office space or transit subsidies for employees that are no longer deductible, terrible for Seattle and transit, especially the North and South King Co. ST subareas..