From Sound Alliance, an organizing coalition of which SVdP Seattle | King County is a member:

When Gov. Inslee issued the Stay at Home order, he classified which businesses are essential and which are non-essential. Since that time, he has modified the order as circumstances have changed. We need him to make another change for the duration of the Stay at Home order:

1. Place Debt Collection agencies in the non-essential business category

Debt collection agencies lumped themselves into financial services and have managed to call themselves essential. They are not. And they are getting ready to hire more people to work as debt collectors to be able to take advantage of the stimulus payments that are intended to help families stay afloat while we are asked to stay at home.

The purpose of the stimulus money is to help people pay for rent, food, utilities, medicine and other basic necessities during this crisis where we have been asked to stay at home. Many people have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and need this money. To say that debt collection is essential in this moment is unconscionable.

2. Declare a moratorium on debt collection

Taking money from families who have lost some or all of their income through no fault is a threat to the families’ health and well-being. It adds another layer of stress which can impact health for the whole community. Research is showing that there are physical and mental impacts to economic insecurity including increased physical pain, increases in domestic abuse and compromised immune systems making people more vulnerable to illness.

Many other states have taken similar action: Nevada, Ohio, Washington D.C., Texas, Massachusetts, North Caroline and more, have issued orders to stop this predatory and unnecessary activity.

Governor Inslee needs to act immediately in the public interest before the money comes from the federal government. He must amend the Stay at Home order to prevent further stress and instability in an already overwhelming time.

Please contact Governor Inslee’s office at 360-902-4111 or use this contact form.

These are difficult and stressful times for all of us, especially for those who have lost their income due to the need to stay at home. It is incumbent on all of us to act together to shine a light on the gaps in our system and then work to fill them.

If you have questions please email Hannah Hunthausen