Seattle cracking down on “car-ranching,” a practice where a “predatory landlord” buys a towed vehicle at auction and rents it to a homeless person or family, The Seattle Times reports.
Over 2,000 people live in vehicles in King County, many of them poor-condition RVs that have become hazardous or inoperable. Although the city periodically towed these vehicles, about 60 percent of those towed in the last year have reappeared on the streets.
The city claims “several” car-ranchers own up to a dozen vehicles each, and announced legislation allowing Seattle to destroy RVs that are public-health hazards. The newspaper notes many RVs park in business areas like Sodo, and have caused multiple fires in the past few years.
“We have an obligation to protect public health and ensure that our neighbors are not living in inhumane conditions. And we will hold accountable those who prey on vulnerable people for profit,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a press release.
Local Rev. Bill Kirlin-Hackett told the Times that although he does not oppose the legislation, he does not know it will have a meaningful effect, noting he sees more people trading and selling cheap RVs than he sees people renting them.
“There’s so many moving parts to this and they’re just trying to fix one little piece,” he said. “There’s so many side problems here, it’s like putting your fingers into the middle of a rosebush. There are thorns everywhere.”