Multnomah County on Rent Freeze & No-Cause Moratorium: We Could But We Won’t

Today, Portland Tenants United met with Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury to once again deliver our demand that the County enact a rent freeze and a moratorium on no-cause evictions until this disaster is remedied and a more sustainable solution is in place.

Multnomah County, like many places, is experiencing a housing disaster. The number of evictions occurring right now is unprecedented and will continue to rise as we move through the summer. Rent increases are at record levels. Action is needed immediately.

Throughout the meeting, we were told the County was sympathetic and understood the seriousness of the problem and need for action. We were disappointed their focus kept turning to the 2017 legislative session and the formation of various working groups and task forces.

Business-as-usual thinking looks to push just-cause reforms and rent control to the 2017 legislative session. But this is an abdication of County responsibility when they could take action now to relieve the immediate impact of Portland’s housing disaster. As tenants, we need a champion for our survival. During her State of the County address, Chair Kafoury said addressing the housing crisis in Multnomah County is our greatest challenge. She asked: “What are our priorities?”

During our meeting with Chair Kafoury and other commissioners, the County acknowledged they could implement a rent freeze and moratorium on no-cause evictions tomorrow, but that they would not for fear of a lawsuit from landlords and property managers.

This reaction leaves tenants asking: What are our priorities, Chair Kafoury? We ask that you prioritize tenants and housing stability, and put the onus on corporate landlords and lobbyists to defend $500 rent increases and no-cause evictions in the court of law and public opinion.

Portland Tenants United knows the County has prioritized homelessness prevention and housing stability. An emergency rent freeze and moratorium on no-cause evictions are two strong tools that could be implemented to immediately stabilize vulnerable tenants and stop the eviction-to-homelessness pipeline. Tenants need immediate relief and long-term solutions. Anything less will fail to stop the displacement of valued and vulnerable residents. We are prepared to support elected leaders who take bold action and will join with other advocates to highlight those who show inaction.

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