Economic downturn leads to massive evictions

August 30, 2003


BELLEVUE, Wash. - More than 2,000 King County residents were evicted from their homes in the first six months of this year, for not paying their rent.

Assistant groups warn the eviction rate is reaching crisis levels as the Western Washington economy continues to struggle.

Chet Samonds, who has three children, doesn't know how much longer he'll have his apartment. Each month he just barely avoids eviction. It's been nearly two years since Samonds lost his computer programmer job. Despite six months of retraining to upgrade his skills, he still hasn't found a job.

Chet Samonds has been struggling to pay the rent each month.
Samonds and his three children are not alone - social agencies say they are suddenly swamped with others in similar situations.

"These are mainly folks who are unemployed, their unemployment has run out, and they are at the very end of their tether," said Win Hogben of Hopelink. "They don't know what else to do but to come and ask for help."

Hopelink help whenever they can by providing money, basic necessities and other services, but they're being inundated with requests for help.

"I would say it's up to about 30 to 35 percent more," said Hogben.

Families like the Samonds are stuck in an economic downturn that has hung over Western Washington for years now.
Many are seeking help for the first time, which is putting the pressure on the service agencies, as well as putting pressure on the families themselves.

"It's just frustrating - high stress, very high stress," said Samonds.

Economists say there are signs the Western Washington economy is pulling out of its slump but say it could be a couple years before the unemployment rates and eviction rates are back to where they should be.


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