I Rent, I Vote 2018

Ballot Measures that Matter for Tenants

Renters make up almost half the people in Portland. But renters make up far LESS than half the voters at election time. We are under-represented in every election. Because many of us are busy making ends meet, we often don’t have time to think about elections. Which is a shame, because most of the Ballot Measures to be voted on this November 6 will greatly affect Portland tenants.

Want to make sure that your rent money isn’t used to buy politicians who are working against your interests as tenants? Read on.

When issues are put to a vote by the people directly, they are called ‘Ballot Measures’. It takes a lot of voter signatures to qualify a Ballot Measure for a vote, so often it is big-money special interests that push Ballot Measures. But sometimes organized community groups get Ballot Measures qualified, so it’s important to know the good from the bad. Some of the Measures up for a vote on November 6th are not directly about being a renter. But if you rent, odds are you are a working person, and every issue in this guide will affect you as a person who works for a living. So take a moment to get up to speed on the November Election 2018, tenant style.

I RENT, I VOTE 2018

Measure 106: NO

Amends the Oregon constitution to prohibit the use of public funds for abortion and related reproductive services.

This Measure would bar anyone on the Oregon Health Plan or any public employee from using their insurance to end an unwanted pregnancy or to receive related reproductive healthcare. Measure 106 uses the Oregon Constitution to exclude lower income people and public workers from reproductive choice. Only the well-off would be able to make choices about when to bring a pregnancy to term. A direct attack on low-wage workers and public employees. Vote NO.

Measure 105: NO

Repeals Oregon’s state sanctuary law, which prevents local law enforcement and other state agencies from using public resources to aid federal immigration enforcement.

The sanctuary law was passed 30 years ago because many immigrants were afraid to report crimes or give information to authorities due to their immigration status. This made immigrants, and the entire community less safe. By repealing the sanctuary law, Measure 105 would create a class of persons afraid to access criminal justice, an invitation for criminal victimization. It would encourage racial profiling of both immigrants and US citizens.

Unscrupulous landlords are looking for ANY excuse to evict tenants and raise rents. Removal of sanctuary status will mean that landlords can harass tenants they think are undocumented and then evict them.

Low income apartments are targets for a speculator frenzy right now, with investors looking to turn a quick buck with minimal upgrades on empty apartments. As renters, we know that certain landlords will take advantage of any opportunity to profit off of the displacement of immigrant communities. Vote NO.

Measure 104: NO

Amends the Oregon constitution to protect tax breaks for special interests by requiring a three-fifths supermajority vote in the State Legislature to eliminate tax breaks, or to raise fees.

Measure 104 uses the Oregon Constitution to enshrine existing special tax breaks for the biggest corporations in the State. It would also Constitutionally protect corporate interests from having to pay for the rising costs of their use of public resources, or to clean up the pollution they might cause. Measure 104 will also cause immediate cuts to the Oregon Health Plan, which raises part of its funding from fees.

This bill will starve funding for services renters rely on, including public schools, public transportation, public libraries, parks, as well as public enforcement of housing codes. This measure will make it impossible to raise revenue for affordable housing by increasing fees on the real estate industry. Less new affordable housing means higher rents for all. Vote NO.

Measure 103: NO

Amends state Constitution to prohibit taxes and fees on ’groceries’, retroactive to September 2017.

There are no taxes on food in Oregon, so this Measure ‘fixes’ a problem that doesn’t exist for renters, but it does enact a Constitutional protection against tax increases for all major corporations in anyway related to the food industry. It’s a Constitutionally protected tax break for some of the biggest retail corporations in Oregon, including tobacco companies.

Measure 103 is retroactive to Sept 2017. This means that if you are a renter on the Oregon Health Plan, you could be at risk of losing your coverage since the Plan is funded by fees on Hospitals, which have food services. Measure 101 — which established this funding and was passed with 60% support of Oregonians in January 2018 — would likely be overturned by Measure 103.

If you rely on clean air, clean water, safe food, and protection against toxic chemicals, you will be at greater risk because the agencies that regulate these things will no longer be able to fund their budgets.

Since PTU’s members and the people we advocate for are working people who will be gravely injured by Measure 103, we say: Vote NO.

Measure 102: YES

As renters, we need more affordable housing available for everyone. And we have all seen that we can’t just depend on big business to create it.

Measure 102 was developed by governments, housing authorities, affordable housing providers, community development corporations, and community organizations to allow nonprofits to combine and leverage state bond money with other sources of funding in order to build more deeply affordable housing. This Measure is entirely about building more deeply affordable housing — a big WIN for renters.

This Measure is also designed to boost the ability of the $653 million Regional Affordable Housing Bond (Measure 26–199) to build desperately needed deeply affordable housing in the Portland area. If Measure 102 is passed the number of deeply affordable housing units funded by this bond would be boosted from 2400 to 3900. To learn how this Measure will work, take a deeper dive with this piece by one of our organizers. Either way, vote YES!

Measure 26–199: YES

Voters in the Metro region (Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties) will be asked to approve the Affordable Housing Bond to fund affordable housing for low-income families, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities. The bond will make it possible to build new affordable homes, and renovate and preserve currently affordable homes for those in need of safe, stable housing. This bond is estimated to fund homes for over 7500 people in the region, or 12,000 people if the statewide constitutional amendment — Measure 102 — is also passed.

For the last ten years, renters have suffered from rising rents, brought on by a frenzy of investment in luxury apartments and condos. Measure 26–199 turns that ship around by funding dedicated affordable housing through a regional surcharge on property of about $5 per month for the average homeowner. Vote YES!

Measure 26–200: YES

Want to make sure that your rent money isn’t used to buy politicians who are working against your interests as tenants? Measure 26–200, championed by Honest Elections, would limit individual contributions to political campaigns for elected positions in the City of Portland. Additionally, the Measure requires that political ads prominently disclose their actual major funders (not just nice-sounding names of committees or nonprofit corporations). Voters overwhelmingly supported (89% approval!) a similar measure for Multnomah County elections in 2016. Vote YES!

Measure 26–201: YES

The Portland Clean Energy Initiative will raise $30 million in new annual revenue for clean energy infrastructure and clean energy jobs in Portland. Nonprofits — alone or in partnership with for-profit companies, schools and/or other government agencies — can apply for grants from this revenue to weatherize homes, install solar and other renewable energy technologies, provide job and contractor training, expand local food production, and build green infrastructure in Portland. Because utility costs are a significant expense this measure will help enhance housing stability for cost-burdened renters.

The grant money is raised by a new 1% business licensing surcharge on big retail corporations with over $1 billion in total revenue and at least $500,000 in Portland revenue — another WIN for renters and working people. A green energy fund designed to hire and train working people to make our homes and schools more energy efficient. Vote YES!