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October 2021

News In Brief

News In Brief

October 2021

  • Data from the 2020 Census shows the central Puget Sound region added another 600,000 people in the last 10 years. The population now stands at 4.3 million, up from 3.7 million in 2010. To put that in perspective, we've added about the equivalent of two Kitsap counties since the last census count. Seattle grew the most in raw numbers, whereas Kirkland had the highest percentage growth. Find out more. The 2020 Census also shows a shift towards a more diverse region. Whites were the only racial group that did not increase during the last decade. All others grew. People of Asian descent increased by 56% and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders grew by 54%. The region's Hispanic/Latinx population swelled by 46%.  See the numbers

  • Protesters gathered recently in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood to call attention to the need for rent control in the city as demonstrators said that low wages and skyrocketing rent costs are threatening to leave many people homeless. Dozens of people gathered in the area to demand that the law that makes rent control illegal in Washington state to be overturned. Currently, landlords can increase the monthly rent as high as they'd like provided they give their tenants a 60-day notice period. Seattle City Councilmember Sawant is pushing for changes, and her office has collected 15,000 signatures in an effort to overturn the ban on rent control in Washington state. State lawmakers need to change the law before the issue of rent control can move forward.

  • Fannie Mae, a leading source of mortgage financing for single-family home buyers, has added a new feature to its automated underwriting program. Fannie Mae will consider rental payment history-with permission from the mortgage applicants-as part of its risk assessment for loan approval. This is significant because most landlords don't report payment history to the credit bureaus, so renters don't get credit for on-time payments. Fannie Mae's new underwriting program will help some renters - who consistently pay on time - qualify for a mortgage.

  • The eviction and utility shut-off moratoriums have been extended in Seattle. Mayor Jenny Durkan said Tuesday morning she extended both through Jan. 15, 2022. Seattle has had an eviction ban since March 2020. Durkan said the city has distributed $15 million in federal relief money and has $28 million approved and ready to send out to tenants and or landlords.

  • A Washington state senator is stepping down to help run the Department of Correction's (DOC) Women's Prison Division. Senator Jeannie Darneille, who represents Washington's 27th legislative district, is stepping down to take an assistant secretary position in the division. DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange made the decision Tuesday to appoint Darneille. Darneille has been a member of the state legislature since 2001, and is expected to assume her new role sometime in the fall. The new position will have Darneille overseeing the development of the division.

  • Seattle's known as a place to find a top-notch cup of coffee, but a new survey does not rank the city at the top of the list for cities with the best coffee. Seattle came in third on WalletHub's latest list of best coffee cities in America. Portland topped the list and San Francisco came in second. U.S. coffee consumption is up 8% since January 2020. To determine the best local coffee scenes in America, WalletHub compared the 100 largest cities across 12 key indicators of a strong coffee culture. The data set ranges from coffee shops, coffee houses and caf├ęs per capita to the average price per pack of coffee.

  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a one-month extension to the state's eviction moratorium bridge. The mortarium bridge was set to expire at the end of September, but will now expire Oct. 31 at 11:59 p.m. As before, evictions are still allowed in cases where the landlord intends to sell or move into the property, or if an affidavit declares there are health and safety issues to the property created by the occupant. The moratorium on evictions was first enacted at the start of the pandemic to aid struggling tenants who lost income. The governor's office says they hope the one-month extension will give counties more time to get relief funds to renters.

  • Washington state's economy is projected to have nearly $1 billion more than previously assumed through mid-2023. Updated numbers by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council show that projected revenue collections for the 2021-2023 budget cycle are $927 million above what had been originally forecasted in June. And projections for the next two-year budget cycle that ends in mid-2025 increased by more than $931 million. The next state revenue forecast will be in November.

  • The Washington Supreme Court has unanimously upheld a new tax on big banks aimed at providing essential services and helping improve the state's regressive tax system. The 1.2% business and occupation surtax - a tax added on top of other taxes - was passed by the Legislature in 2019. It applies to banks that make more than $1 billion in annual profits, but it is assessed only on their economic activity in Washington. The banking industry sued, saying the tax discriminated against banks engaged in interstate commerce, in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The justices ruled Thursday the tax doesn't discriminate against out-of-state banks because it applies equally to those based in Washington or elsewhere.