How can that many people owe that much? The rent is obviously too damn high, as others have said.
According to the National Equity Atlas COVID rent-debt study, King County renters owe an average of $4,750 in back rent. Combined, those 39,000 renters owe $186 million in back rent. 55% of all people facing a pandemic-related financial hardship are low-income, 62% are People of Color and 71% lost employment-related income in the last year. That is unacceptable.
Not that I want to see a wave of evictions as they try to make up the difference, but I suspect the amount the landlords need to cover their costs vs what they are asking are pretty widely separated. What percentage of Seattle’s renters is that 39,000? The next lowest county has only one third the number of folks in arrears and only 28% of the total amount owed. Fewer debtors and less owed overall…
We know that rents rise and fall with demand, not as any basis in value. So these debtors unfortunately bought at the peak and now their earnings are in the trough of the wave. Not their fault and it is exactly what Henry George set out to understand when he wrote Progress and Poverty.
Like a flash it came over me that there was the reason of advancing poverty with advancing wealth. With the growth of population, land grows in value, and the men who work it must pay more for the privilege.”
There it was: whenever a population converges around a certain location, the land, of which there is only a limited supply for each location, becomes more expensive to live on; people have to increasingly pay to live on land, and this in turn affects the entire economy. George’s insight that day articulated one of the root causes not only of economic inequality, but of a great number of social ailments that still plague society today, from booms and busts to widespread unemployment, environmental destruction, urban sprawl, suburban dystopia, and rural wastelands.