Those working at Hogback Development Co. in Yakima, like many others, had grown weary of the constant negative news surrounding the coronavirus.
“Things were progressing toward getting worse (rather) than getting better,” project manager Michelle Blanchard said, recalling a recent conversation she had with developer and owner Chris Waddle.
Both decided to seek something positive. It wasn’t long before Waddle had an answer: They decided to waive April’s rent for their residential tenants.
The Yakima company is best known for its commercial developments, but it also is a landlord for 18 residential tenants.
Waddle told Blanchard that the thing that would make him feel better would be to help others. He realized that even more families could benefit if other landlords did the same thing. He and Blanchard worked together on a video that announced Hogback’s plans, and challenged other landlords to take the same action.
“Follow our lead,” Waddle said in the video, which was released Friday. “We are calling on landlords of any size, of residential properties, whether it’s a single-
family home, a duplex, a fourplex, an apartment complex, no matter how big, no matter how small to grant a rent holiday.”
Waddle encouraged people to share his video with the hashtag #RentHoliday.
“#RentHoliday sounded like a natural fit,” Blanchard said. “We all need a holiday; we needed something to celebrate.”
It remains to be seen how many landlords will follow suit. Still, Waddle has talked to several landlords who indicated they would either offer a break on rent or were considering it, Blanchard said.
She also hoped that the temporary break would provide time for tenants to secure additional financial help, such as aid at the state level or through a potential federal stimulus package.
“(The) reason we did this at the time we did is that landlords would have time to see if this was something they could offer,” she said. “The hope is that if families get rent relief in April, they, in turn, will be able to pay their rent in May, June and the months after that.”