He Saved Up for Rent and a Deposit—So Why Was Thomas Stuck in a Shelter?

When Thomas was living in a homeless shelter in Tacoma, he saved up to get an apartment. He had first and last months’ rent, a deposit, and enough money for three tenant screening fees each month. An error on his screening report got him rejected by landlords time after time, though, and he spent hundreds of dollars on tenant screening reports. Thomas was stuck in the shelter months longer than he needed to be.

If the tenant screening system were more transparent and fair, Thomas could have been in his own home months earlier. That’s why he advocates for the Fair Tenant Screening Act. One part of the act adding transparency to the screening process has already become law. Now advocates are working to create portable screening reports. If the law goes into effect, tenants would only have to pay for one report, and they would be able give landlords access to the report for up to 30 days. This solution would not only help people come out of homelessness faster, but also would save all renters across the state a lot of money in their home searches.

What You Can Do

1) Urge your lawmakers to support the Fair Tenant Screening Act so people have better opportunities to afford a home. Use this easy email form provided by the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. (Note: The form email also advocates for another of our policy priorities, protecting programs that prevent homelessness and help people transition into homes. We hope you’ll support that, too!)

2) Spread the word about this important policy area on social media using the hashtag #FTSA2014. Not sure how to advocate on Twitter and Facebook? Check out our Social Media 101 and Social Media 201 Google+ Hangouts.

3) Have tenant screening fees been a burden for you? Share your story with us by leaving a standard or video comment, or send an email to our Advocacy Coordinator, Denise: dmiller@ywcaworks.org.

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