Thursday, August 2, 2012
The Associated Students of Western Washington University (A/S) has just sent a letter to Mayor Linville voicing the concerns of students over the dangers posed by substandard and dangerous rental housing in Bellingham and the lack of a program of regular inspections of all rentals. The letter was signed by Patrick Stickney, the A/S Vice President for Governmental Affairs and the A/S President Ethan Glemaker. The press release on the letter stated:
“Students make Bellingham their home for four or more years, and they should not have to deal with conditions which affect their quality of life in order to obtain an education”, said Stickney. “Students also don’t know their rights as tenants or get labeled as ‘high-maintenance tenants’ if they try to exert them. This issue doesn’t just affect students, but all residents of Bellingham who live in rental houses.”
The letter referenced a survey of renters conducted in 2011 that demonstrated that a surprising percentage of rental homes in the city have life threatening conditions related to electrical and plumbing systems, mold, structural problems, filth and vermin. Over two years ago, the Associated Students passed a resolution on the topic of rental inspections and asked that the city take action. The students are still waiting. There are some 8,000 to 10,000 student renters in the city whose 18,000 rental units remain utterly uncontrolled. These young renters are well aware of the dangers of substandard housing as they are, for all intents and purposes, forced to live in some of the worst year after year for lack of choice.