We have mentioned several times before (see, here), the ongoing federal court challenge to Seattle’s residential screening ordinance and CDIA’s amicus in that case. That case, Yim v. Seattle, grinds on, but there was a new and interesting amicus filed in the case. GRE Downtowner LLC (“GRE”) supports the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and deny the City of Seattle’s cross-motion for summary judgment.
GRE “is the owner of a 254-unit apartment building in downtown Seattle called The Addison on Fourth (“the Addison”).” This building “qualifies for federal low-income housing tax credits, which means the units are leased to Seattle residents earning up to 60 percent of adjusted median income and are subject to rent controls.” Following the passage of the Seattle ordinance, GRE stopped conducting criminal background checks on prospective tenants in The Addison. As compared to before the effective date of the ordnance, since the passage of the ordinance, 911 calls to the Addison have more than doubled.
Fights are breaking out in the lobby of the building; used needles, trash, and feces are left in stairways and hallways; fire alarms are being set off repeatedly in the middle of the night. In response, the Addison’s management has installed cameras in the hallways on every floor and in other public areas, upgraded door hardware, installed a controlled access system for the elevator, given residents fobs that allow them access only to their floor, and replaced the main lobby door. It has hired additional janitors and armed security guards. These new security measures have greatly increased operating costs, yet problems remain rampant and the Addison’s annual insurance deductible has climbed from $5,000 to $100,000.
Building managers started to keep a growing list of individuals banned from the building for starting fights or damaging property. A staff member was assaulted. Employees are afraid to work alone, so they now work in teams. Turnover is 400 percent.
In short, “[t]he Addison is in serious jeopardy. The five on-site managers are not social workers. They are persons trying to meet GRE’s goal of providing safe, clean, comfortable, stable, and affordable housing for low-income Seattle residents. The Ordinance is unlawfully hindering achievement of that goal.”
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More