SUNNYSIDE, WA - The City of Sunnyside is being sued by the state of Washington for unlawfully using its Crime Free Rental Housing Program (CFRHP) to evict people, without proving the tenants actually engaged in criminal activity.
The City chose not to talk on camera, but they did release a statement which reads. "Despite the City's request, the Ag's office declined to provide the city with any concrete examples of alleged violations of the program. The lawsuit filed today still fails to identify names of any alleged victims or dates of alleged violations."
In the lawsuit three examples are listed, no names are shared, but in a November 8, 2017 notice sent to the city from the AG's Office there does appear to be 'concrete' evidence.
There are case numbers, dates and names of officers. Another thing to note is that in this same notice the AG's Office stated, "As an initial matter, the Attorney General's Office (AGO) based its review on the documents SPD provided, though that appears to be an incomplete set of documents responsive to the information we requested."
It's also important to note that in the lawsuit it states, "Most of the unlawfully evicted residents have been Latino/as, families with children or women."
The examples mentioned also say the three families were either homeless or couldn't find a place to live for over a year after being evicted.
Many people in Sunnyside say they're bothered by the City's alleged wrongdoing.
"No ones got enough money to right away move into another home and I think the last concern is kids, family, anyone; which I think should be number one concern," said Jairo Cardenas, Sunnyside resident.
"What they're doing is wrong. It's very wrong especially with individuals who don't have the money to be putting out for a new apartment, and because nowadays, I mean things are going up," said Jessica Varner, Sunnyside resident.
One person asked what police are doing in regards to this. Sunnyside PD is mentioned in the lawsuit as the agency enforcing the evictions.
This not bringing any shock to locals.
"Supposedly they say they are here to serve and protect, but they don't serve and protect nothing because they're the ones doing all the hurtful things," said Cardenas.
Varner has a message for City leaders, "It's not easy out here on the streets, it's really, really hard. I would want them to walk in their shoes. Put themselves in their position and see how it is."
In a final statement the AG's Office said, 'Whether or not the City of Sunnyside is intentionally trying to mislead people, the statement it released following our lawsuit is simply inaccurate. My office clearly articulated the issues with Sunnyside's program."
Below you can find the lawsuit and the statement from the City of Sunnyside.