Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, shown on June 3, 2021.

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee Thursday announced an extension of the ban on evictions through Sept. 30 in an effort to help Washington tenants navigate the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The existing moratorium is set to end June 30, and the extension announced Thursday is a new and different version.

Under the new version, landlords are prohibited from evicting tenants for past-due rent accrued during the pandemic, until a rental assistance program and an eviction-resolution program are operational in their county.

That time frame includes rent that was due between Feb 29, 2020, and July 31 of this year.

Starting Aug. 1, renters will be expected to pay full rent, unless they have already negotiated an alternative with the landlord or are actively seeking rental assistance money.

Meanwhile, landlords under the new order must offer tenants a repayment plan before the eviction process is started.

The new ban also removes some types of housing from the existing order, including hotels and motels, Airbnbs, long-term care facilities and other nontraditional housing.

Thursday’s order is intended to buy more time to get needed help to renters and landlords.

The Legislature this spring approved a host of programs — including an expansion of eviction-resolution services — and budgeted hundreds of millions of dollars aimed at preventing a cascade of foreclosures and evictions.

That includes $658 million in federal virus aid dollars in the new state budget for rental assistance. But that budget doesn’t start until July 1. It will take weeks, if not months, to get that money distributed.

That funding comes in addition to the $500 million already released by the state, which has provided rental assistance to more than 80,000 renters and landlords, according to the governor’s office.

Inslee first used his emergency powers in March 2020 to put the temporary moratorium in place, after unemployment rose steeply as broad swaths of economic and social life closed down amid the pandemic.

The governor has since extended the eviction ban several times.

This spring, lawmakers took several steps intended to keep renters from being evicted and make sure landlords get paid during the pandemic as the moratorium ends.

That approach has become a cornerstone of the government response to housing instability during the pandemic.

But the rollout of rent assistance has so far been slow.

While the federal government had already allocated hundreds of millions of dollars in such assistance to be distributed by county governments, much of that money has not made it to landlords’ bank accounts.

In King County, about 2,600 landlords and 9,000 tenants have registered to receive assistance. But the state’s most populous county has yet to distribute its latest round of rent help.

King County doesn’t expect payments to begin until mid-July, according to Mark Ellerbrook, director of the county’s Department of Community and Human Services.

Building a database to manage King County’s $145 million (with more on the way) has contributed to the delay, Ellerbrook said. Counties have also pointed to new documentation requirements that add time to processing applications for help.

Money has started flowing, however, to landlords in other Puget Sound counties.

Snohomish County has begun distributing about $58 million from the federal and state governments. So far, 716 households have received about $6.4 million, according to Jackie Anderson, division manager at the Snohomish County Human Services Department.

Building a database to manage King County’s $145 million (with more on the way) has contributed to the delay, Ellerbrook said. Counties have also pointed to new documentation requirements that add time to processing applications for help.

Money has started flowing, however, to landlords in other Puget Sound counties.

Snohomish County has begun distributing about $58 million from the federal and state governments. So far, 716 households have received about $6.4 million, according to Jackie Anderson, division manager at the Snohomish County Human Services Department.

Margaux Maxwell reports for the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. She can be reached at mmaxwell@yakimaherald.com.