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'I don't want my baby in the streets': Family worried about expiring eviction moratorium in Washington

A couple living in North Spokane has been struggling to make rent, buy food and pay other utilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — Washington state currently has an eviction moratorium, which means that landlords cannot kick tenants over an inability to pay rent. Right now, the rule expires on Oct. 15 but many renters are hoping for more time. 

Anngie Zepeba, her husband Martin and her two-year-old son Adrian live in North Spokane. Martin lost his job in March due to the pandemic and has not received his unemployment checks. 

The Spanish-speaking couple has been struggling to make rent, buy food and pay other utilities.

"The winter is coming and it could be horrible to be doing that with a baby in the streets," she said. "I don't want my baby in the streets." 

Zepeba's landlord in North Spokane is asking her for money, she said. 

"Some landlords want more than the rent to cover the debt," she added. "It's really hard right now."

Her rent used to be around $700 but now it is more than $1,000. Martin has gotten a new job so the family is able to pay the increased rent. 

That is not enough for the landlord, Zepeba said. She towed the family's car, another $300 they do not have.

"We are doing the effort, but it's really hard because we have other bills." she said. "We are trying to recover our stability." 

They want to move out but they do not have the money to do so, Zepeba said. They must provide the current rent, missing rent and money to pay off debt.

The thought of the moratorium ending is making Zepeba feel not only stuck but afraid for her son.  

"The moratorium is really important, not just for me, not just for my family," she said. "We don't ask for COVID. All this situation is not our fault, we are trying."

The Spokane office of the Tenants Union is urging Washington Governor Jay Inslee to extend the moratorium to March 2021. 

The number of coronavirus cases in Spokane County continues to increase. The Tenants Union of Washington says evicting people right now will increase the likelihood that the virus will continue to spread.