According to KOMO News, the council’s Sustainability and Renter’s Rights Committee on Thursday voted 3-1 to promote the proposal to the full council and the proposal could be viewed as early as Monday.
If passed, the city would be obliged to cover the costs for legal representation as the legislation would add a part to the Seattle housing code that would allow for the city to provide a lawyer for any renter meeting a court eviction hearing.
According to the proposal, as early as the tenant gets a summons for the eviction process, the resident could request an attorney free of charge no matter what the tenant's annual income is. The defendant would not be forced to accept the city’s free legal representation, though if they opt to hire their own, Seattle would not be bound to cover those costs.
Marxist City Council member Kshama Sawant sponsored the bill, which was formed after similar legislation in San Francisco and New York, though, both of those cities require income limits for the person requesting the service. She is trying to fast track the legislation because the city's eviction moratorium is listed to end March 31.
Socialist City Council Member Tammy Morales told KOMO’s Matt Markovitch, "The whole point here is that people (can) get access to representation."
Edmund Witter, managing attorney of the King County Bar Association’s Housing Justice Project, who was part of the group that operated to set the policy in New York told Markovitch that the struggle to calculate a tenant’s financial income as they awaited their court hearing was cumbersome and time-consuming.
Roger Valdez, director of Seattle for Growth, a representative of commercial landlords in the city, told Markovitch, "It’s smash-and-grab politics on the part of the City Council. What we need is eviction prevention. It’s incoherent once again by the City Council, and again shows a complete lack of regard and interest in how things work in the real world."
In the meantime, landlord’s especially small "mom and pop" owners proceed to fight under the mandated rent and eviction moratoriums. Roger Telsey, a retiree, told Q13 Fox that all of his frustration stems from a property he owns in Seattle. "If we didn’t get anything for 3 months that was ok we could deal with it. Now ... I am taking money out of our living expenses every month.”