Group calms housing conflicts

November 29, 2002
A 78-year-old Everett woman struggling to survive on monthly Social Security income of $892 received a notice that her rent was increasing from $525 to $650 per month. She lucked out and found a brochure at the Everett Senior Center that helped her out of her dilemma.
     She called the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish and Island Counties, a program of Volunteers of America that has been the counties' fair housing counselor since 1982. The tax-funded program provides free mediation assistance between landlords and tenants embroiled in disputes and helps many of them resolve their problems without having to go to court.
     An intake counselor determined that the landlord's notice of the rental increase fell short of the law's requirements, and notified the landlord. The landlord then set the increase to take effect a month after the original notice. The counselor also informed the woman of senior housing, and she was placed at the top of the waiting list, because her higher rent would be more than half of her monthly income. She soon got an apartment for $275 a month and is able to enjoy life more now.