Politics Washington becomes the first state to ensure tenants at risk of eviction have legal representation
CFPB targets debt collectors in bid to protect renters
The new rule requires debt collectors to notify tenants of their rights under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent. The CFPB warned that debt collectors who evict tenants could face prosecution. The agency is issuing the new rule under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. “Kicking families out into the street during this pandemic may literally be a death sentence,” acting CFPB Director Dave Uejio said in a statement.
- Washington became the first state to ensure evicted tenants receive a right to counsel.
- Tenants with incomes 200% or below the federal poverty line are eligible to get free legal aid.
- Biden extended the eviction ban through June 30, but some courts have overruled it, putting renters at risk.
President Joe Bidenthe ban on evictions through the end of June, but some states' courts have overruled it, and evictions are looming for many renters across the country.
The fight for DC statehood gets its best chance yet
The House is slated to vote on enacting statehood for Washington, DC, today.This week, proponents of statehood will likely get one step closer to their best chance to changing that reality. On Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on whether to make DC the nation’s 51st state. The vote comes just days after the White House put out an official statement of support for the bill, arguing “for far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington, D.C. have been deprived of full representation in the U.S. Congress.
Washington just became the first state to ensure that if its residents do get evicted, they will have access to legal aid.
On Thursday, the Seattle Timesthat Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a right to counsel guarantee as part of a larger bill aimed at preventing evictions once the moratorium expires. The law ensures that tenants who receive public assistance or who have incomes 200% of the federal poverty level or below - $25,760 annually for individuals - will have free access to public attorneys when faced with eviction.
"In America, 5% or less of tenants have access to a lawyer in eviction proceedings, and that is what is making this whole situation such a problem," John Pollock, coordinator of the advocacy group National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, told Insider. "If every tenant had a lawyer, the landlords would not be trying to do half of the things they're doing."
Virginia tenants fear they'll be displaced by Amazon workers
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — The Southern Towers apartment complex is a census tract unto itself, with more than 2,600 units, and a huge bastion of affordable housing in the inner suburbs of northern Virginia. But longtime residents — many of whom have had to rely on a federal moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic — fear they will be squeezed out when the government mandate ends, in large part to make room for high-earning tenants who will be working at Amazon's second headquarters in nearby Crystal City.
An Inslee spokesperson told the Seattle Times that there are no plans to issue a new statewide eviction moratorium, and Biden has yet to comment on the matter.
According to the US Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey, the pandemic has caused 160,000 Washington households to be behind on rent as of March, andnationwide are behind on rent payments.
Insideron April 8 that since Biden extended the eviction ban, courts in Texas, Ohio, and Tennessee have ruled against it, putting a strain on the Treasury Department to deliver in emergency housing aid before courts starting processing evictions again.
Several cities, including Seattle, have already passed right to counsel laws, and Philadelphia enacted a ruling at the end of March that said landlords are required to apply to the city's rental assistance program and enroll in the Eviction Diversion Program before they can file an eviction in court.
Lawmakers are also keeping an eye on evictions. Rep. Maxine Waters of California questioned Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen over the state-court rulings at a hearing in March, and said she wants the Treasury Department to look into how to "straighten out this confusion and to help stabilize this rental assistance."
House Democrats call for paid legal representation in immigration court .
A group of 48 House Democrats called on leaders in the Appropriations Committee to assign $75 million in funding to pay for legal representation for immigrants facing potential removal proceedings in immigration court.In a letter led by Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.), the lawmakers called on Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), chair of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the panel, to fund expansion of a pilot program that provides legal representation to some unaccompanied minors and individuals with mental disabilities.