Letter to the editor: State program falls short, puts unfair burden on landlords


I am writing to express my deep concern and frustration regarding the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program, a taxpayer-funded initiative under the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). While the program is undoubtedly designed to provide essential support to vulnerable individuals, there are instances where it appears to fall short of its commitments, placing an unfair burden on landlords like myself.

As a responsible landlord, I have always strived to provide safe and well-maintained housing to my tenants. A few years ago, one of my tenants was accepted into the HEN program, which included a promise that her rent would be covered every month. After three years of this arrangement, we invested considerable resources into upgrading her unit, which included essential improvements such as new ceiling fans, an air conditioner, a heater, bathroom renovations, a revamped kitchen with new cabinets and a sink, new flooring throughout the unit and even a new front door.

The completion of these upgrades was in June, with a planned rent increase scheduled for September, giving the tenant ample time to prepare for the adjustment. Unfortunately, rather than complying with the new rent cost, the tenant took a different course of action. She falsely claimed that she had been evicted and urged the HEN officer not to pay her rent.

Since June, she has continued to occupy the unit without paying rent, creating an unjust financial strain on me as her landlord. My primary concern is not only the financial burden but also the apparent lack of accountability within the HEN program. Taxpayer dollars fund this program, and it is only fair that the promises made to landlords and tenants alike are upheld.

Moreover, it has come to my attention that the HEN program intends to relocate the tenant to another apartment and continue covering her rent there. This decision is perplexing, considering the unresolved delinquent bill she has left behind in our property. It raises questions about the program’s responsibility and the allocation of taxpayer funds. Should the HEN program not prioritize settling outstanding debts before moving tenants to new accommodations?

I believe in the importance of social programs like HEN to assist those in need, but it is equally vital that these programs operate with integrity and fulfill their commitments. It is unacceptable for landlords to be left bearing the financial consequences of a tenant’s actions when the program initially promised to cover their rent.

In closing, I implore the responsible authorities within the HEN program to reevaluate their policies and practices to ensure that landlords are not unfairly burdened by tenants who fail to meet their financial obligations. It is my hope that this letter brings attention to the issue and encourages a fair resolution for all parties involved.


Emelie Nix