General Information: 503-823-4682
1221 SW 4th Ave, Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204
One year ago today my office introduced an ordinance that established mandatory relocation assistance for tenants facing no-cause evictions or rent increases of 10% or higher, co-sponsored by the Mayor, and passed unanimously by Council. This ordinance requires landlords to share in the burden they are creating on tenants and our city during our unprecedented housing crisis. It was the strongest protection we could deliver to tenants given how the state legislature has hampered our ability to manage our rent crisis, namely due to the 33-year-old ban on rent control and the preemption on just cause evictions. Next month we will be introducing several amendments recommended by the Relo Technical Advisory Committee -- which is made up of industry, housing, and tenant advocates -- and making relo permanent!
Fighting state interference with local power is a high priority for me. We need the state to set minimum standards for us on issues like protecting our environment and educating our children. We do not need them to make preemptions that favor corporate and special interests and interfere with our ability to best serve our city. We also need their help to solve our housing and homelessness crisis. Several bills are coming before the legislature in the short session which address different challenges we face with homelessness and in creating stable and affordable housing. Unfortunately, tenant protections are not among them, due to how challenging these issues have proven to be most tenant advocates agree they can't be tackled in 35 days.
In October 2015, Portland City Council declared a State of Emergency on Housing and Homelessness at the urging of numerous housing justice advocates, activists, and organizations. I was among them. We had hoped that this declaration would bring meaningful relief to Portland's cost-burdened and displaced renters, as well as people experiencing homelessness. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough, and our housing crisis continues to outpace all of our efforts to address it and finding suitable properties for alternative shelters remains a challenge due to a variety of factors.
It's time for a reality check: we are in the eighth year of a housing crisis in the Metro region. Although developers have added thousands of new units to our rental inventory, they are mostly out of reach of the average income household. Although rent increases may be slowing at the top of the market, we have not seen a decrease in the number of cost-burdened households. We have not seen a significant slow down in the rate of displacement of low and moderate income renters. And we continue to see an inflow of recently housed residents -- including families, seniors, and people with disabilities -- entering our homeless population.
We know that municipalities across the Metro region and the state -- urban, suburban, and rural -- are facing crises of their own. I believe it's time for the Oregon legislature to consider declaring a state of emergency for housing and homelessness which would allow for more power and flexibility for municipalities across the state to address the unique needs and challenges they face. We can't fix this complex problem with a nearly empty toolbox.