We know that evictions, and how they play out, are functionally racist, but we rarely get to hear landlords explicitly announce racism as their motivation for eviction.
Today, a landlord told lawmakers at a hearing for SB 5733, which can be found at 1:23 in the hearing video, a bill that would end no-cause terminations of tenancy, that the reason people of color are disproportionately evicted was due to drug use and “psychosis.”
“Why do we have such high (eviction) numbers with minorities and these other groups? Well I’m just going to be blunt. Drugs and alcohol is the thing as a landlord that I face. Psychosis is something I face.” the landlord said. Luckily Sen. Hobbs and Sen. Hasegawa stepped up to point out the offensive statements made in the hearing.
While these remarks were deeply offensive, what was doubly striking was the call from Sen. Mark Mullet for both sides to find “common ground.” Unfortunately, Sen. Mullet did not even point out the landlord’s statement as racist or even offensive.
Not only are we disappointed by landlords relying on racist testimony to counter our efforts to make humane reforms to the eviction process that already exists in other states like Ohio, Tennessee, and South Carolina, but we are disappointed that our lawmakers continue to insist tenants of color work with landlords who, not only defend structural racism, but also express blatant racism towards tenants.
Washington CAN, an organization led by a woman of color, with a majority of women of color organizers who organize low-income tenants and tenants of color, cannot find common ground with explicit racism. This exchange is an example of exactly why we need this eviction reform. We urge the legislature to also stand against explicit racism by passing these eviction reform bills.