Due to the extension of Washington’s Safe Start Phased Reopening proclamation, our staff recognize that many families have reached their limits. While families understand this extension’s importance, they continue to face unemployment and fall behind on their rent. More family participants than ever face the dilemma of paying rent or buying food. Families to which we have previously provided emergency assistance have called to ask about receiving aid a second time. The combination of limited funding and the widespread needs emerging from the pandemic makes it challenging to do.
Landlords continue to intimidate family participants by reminding them that they are subjected to pay in full their outstanding rent balance. Families with leases are also concerned because their payments have increased due to late charges. We refer these cases to CLEAR or Tenants Union.
We estimate that 90% of these families do not qualify for emergency benefits during the past five months, making them the most vulnerable population during the pandemic. Participants have been filing claims every week for the last four months with no success. Our staff have appealed to the Employment Security Department requesting that an employee contact participants and review their benefits application. In the meantime, staff continue to provide emergency assistance and information about resources.