The debate over landlords giving breaks on rentals to Seattle tech workers is heating up.
Last week, the Stranger and King 5 covered “preferred employee specials,” aka lower deposits, fees and even rents, as incentives to lure tech workers into apartments. As we wrote, many of those newer complexes in Seattle especially target tech workers from Microsoft, Amazon and Google as they are perceived to be the perfect tenants — with stable incomes and rarely home.
They also tend to be white men.
This week, The Stranger followed up on their initial report with a lengthy piece about the practice (both pieces are well worth the read). While they found that it isn’t necessarily illegal — these rental practices aren’t as easy to prove as discrimination as gender, age, sexual orientation or race — there is definitely a bias going on.
And there appears to be a tide turning against the practice. The Stranger asked 18 candidates running for Seattle city council seats about the practice, and 14 responded saying they opposed the practice of “offering renters who work for large companies discounts on their move-in costs.”
The issue certainly won’t help Seattle, which is grappling with a tech boom that is polarizing many in the city.
In fact, if you want a good laugh — or cry — just put in “preferred employer” into a Craigslist search. You’ll get a slew of rentals, like a one-bedroom in downtown Redmond for nearly $2,000 a month, or a two-bedroom gem in Cap/First Hill for $3,368.
Earlier this year, Seattle ranked No. 10 on the most expensive U.S. cities to rent, but those Craigslist apartments are easily reaching NYC-like prices, which ranked No. 2, behind San Francisco.
Turns out, there are a few things the City of Seattle can do to curb or stop these practices, which make it harder for low- to middle-income workers to secure housing.
If you care about fair housing practices, two key events are coming up: Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights told the Stranger that they should have more info on the practices by October, and the Nov. 3 elections, “in particular the Grant versus Burgess citywide race, the Maddux versus Johnson race in District 4, and the Braddock versus Herbold race in District 1” are important ones to watch on this issue.