City of Seattle Extends Rent Relief for City Tenants Through End of Year

SEATTLE (September 18, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced that the City of Seattle will extend its rent relief efforts for City tenants through the end of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn. The City’s rent relief measures provide rent deferral for for-profit tenants and rent waivers for nonprofit tenants. In addition to the Mayor’s eviction mortarium extension through the end of 2020, the City of Seattle has been offering rent deferment or waivers for City tenants since April 2020.

“Since the pandemic touched down in Seattle, we’ve taken urgent measures to help our residents and small businesses weather this storm. We’ve provided direct cash assistance to renters and small businesses and we’ve implemented and extended one of the first in the country eviction moratoriums,” said Mayor Durkan. “In the midst of an unprecedented financial shortfall for the City, we know we must continue to provide urgent relief for our own tenants, and that’s exactly what we’re doing with this extension. Ultimately, cities cannot bear the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis alone, and we deeply need federal leadership to pull us out of this public health and economic crisis.”

“Seattle has a long historical commitment to the arts,” said Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle). “We must do what we can to provide support so our arts community can recover. I’m pleased that Seattle Center and our Parks and Recreation Department will be doing their parts to ease this pandemic’s financial burden on our artists and non-profits.”

This most recent rent relief extension involves rent for August – December of 2020. Sixty-three of the City’s for-profit tenants will have their rent deferred for the remainder of the year, and 103 nonprofit tenants – including artist studios – will have their rent waived for the remainder of the year. The decision impacts the department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS), Parks and Recreation (SPR), and Seattle Center, all of which lease City facilities. Many tenants have contacted FAS, Seattle Center, and SPR requesting additional rent abatement and assistance after suffering a sustained decline in business related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting closures and limits on public gatherings.

“The COVID-related rent relief provided by Mayor Durkan has helped Seattle Public Theater immeasurably. In this time when the performing arts, especially those of us in small venues, may not be able to return to live performance until mid to late 2021, the increased ability to continue to support our artists and programming has been extremely valuable. This rent relief helps preserve our hope of producing art in the future and to maintain the cultural heritage of our Green Lake Bath House theater space,” said Seattle Public Theater Director Cristin Miller.

“The rent relief at the Bathhouse had a huge impact on Madison Park Co-op. Although we had to move online and could no longer use the space, we were able to pay our teachers and all of our educational enrichment providers, e.g., toddler music and yoga, as well as our cleaning service, in full through the end of the school year. We were able to finish the school year without debt which allowed us to invest in additional enrichment programming over the summer, in the form of virtual summer camps, which were new for us and very well-received. Finishing the year positively, plus our summer revenue, has enabled us to invest again in our teacher’s full salary for this school year,” said Madison Park Cooperative Preschool Co-Presidents Kristin Turner and Rochelle Joslyn.

“This was an easy decision for us and it was the right one. Businesses, particularly the small and local businesses we rent space to, have felt an immediate and enormous impact from COVID-19. Our hope is that this extension provides them one less thing to worry about so they can focus on their employees, recovery and helping to keep their staff and patrons safe,” said Calvin W. Goings, Finance and Administrative Services Director.   

“The impact of COVID-19 on our recreation and park partners has been significant, as many recreational activities are still considered to increase the spread of this virus. Our tenants and partners enable us to extend our reach and efforts to better serve community. As we begin to rebuild our programs and services, our hope is that additional rent relief will be support our partners in rebuilding along with us,” said Jesús Aguirre, Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent.

“The arts organizations and destinations at Seattle Center nourish the soul and inspire the spirit, two essential elements for our community’s recovery following the pandemic. Yet these organizations  have been devastated as venues stay closed and audiences remain at home. The continued rent relief serves as a vital lifeline for our resident tenants, and I am so pleased the City of Seattle is able to help them in this way during this challenging, unprecedented time,” said Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams. 

On September 14, the Mayor announced that the allocation of more than $19 million in COVID-19 Relief funding to provide housing assistance for low-income households economically impacted by COVID-19. The City will provide $12 million in rental assistance through United Way of King County’s Home Base Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program, $4 million in 2020 and $8 million in 2021. Additionally in 2020, the City is expected to distribute $4 million through affordable housing providers funded by the Seattle Office of Housing, and nearly $3 million through the Human Services Department’s Homelessness Prevention programs.  

Those investments are in addition to the $41 million King County Eviction Prevention and Rent Assistance Program and the Mayor’s eviction moratoriums for residents, small businesses, and nonprofits that currently lasts through the end of 2020.