Home Finance $23MM in COVID-Related Rent & Utility Relief Passed for Seattle Tenants

$23MM in COVID-Related Rent & Utility Relief Passed for Seattle Tenants

Seattle, Mayor Durkan, COVID-19, United Way of King County, Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities
Courtesy of Kyler Boone

Seattle (April 12, 2021) – Following the City Council’s 8-0 passage of legislation to provide nearly $23 million in rent and utility relief for Seattle residents. Mayor Jenny A. Durkan provided the following statement:  

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis has left far too many out of work as businesses have shuttered leaving families struggling between paying rent or putting food on the table. The City of Seattle has taken unprecedented steps to provide for our communities most impacted during this time. From announcing one of the first-in-the-nation moratoria on residential, small business, and non-profit evictions to direct cash assistance for renters, Seattle has invested tens of millions of dollars to provide critical resources especially for our communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the virus,” said Mayor Durkan.  

“But what the City can provide is far outweighed by the need. In addition to these resources, the Biden administration has secured significantly more resources and direct payments to our residents through the American Rescue Plan.” 

The approved legislation makes the following funding allocations:  

  • $8.0 million to the United Way of King County to provide rental assistance;   
  • $7.0 million to provide rental assistance on behalf of tenants residing in publicly-subsidized rent and income-restricted affordable housing;   
  • $6.2 million to community-based organizations to target rental assistance for BIPOC communities; and  
  • $1.5 million to provide emergency utility assistance to income-qualified renters through Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities programs.  

Since 2020, Mayor Durkan along with City Council, have allocated for City of Seattle of Seattle renters and homeowners $18 million in rent and homeowner assistance, and payments for tenants to support city-funded affordable housing providers. 

Utility assistance fills a critical need, as utilities are a contributing factor to housing cost burden, utility expenses. Since March 2020, the City has suspended utility disconnects for non-payment, and is waiving late and interest fees; however, expenses continue to accrue. In 2020, the City implemented a fast-track process to quickly enroll households into the Utility Discount Program, which helped more than 13,000  households get the assistance they urgently needed, and bringing the total number of households accessing the program to more than 40,000.  

While Mayor Durkan suspended utility disconnects in March 2020, expenses continue to accrue. Households that need help making utility payments can enroll in the Utility Discount Program (UDP) to set up deferred payment plans for Seattle Public Utility and City Light bills.