Relocation Ordinance FAQ (PDF)Read More…
General Information: 503-823-4682
1221 SW 4th Ave, Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204
This year’s City’s budget process didn’t work well for city bureaus, the public, or Council. It didn’t entirely make sense to ask bureaus to offer across the board cut packages in a year when the city has more resources available. Bureaus were forced to offer draconian cut packages that alarmed and activated community members. Activated community members predictably showed up at community budget hearings to protest cuts to programs they care about with little or no knowledge or consideration of other budget issues. As we know, some groups are better able to mobilize that others and many of the urgent matters that we need to address were not reflected by the turnout and many voices were barely able to be heard over the din. When all was said and done, community centers were all funded while other equally or more important programs and initiatives were not. We need a more thoughtful and meaningful process that will enable city bureaus, the public and the City Council to work together in understanding and prioritizing the complex budgeting challenges we face.
This budget does do some great work to address our most urgent issues, and I’d like to highlight a few of them:
We’ve dedicated $500K to Universal Defense.
As our federal administration continues to target and terrorize Portland’s immigrant communities, I am grateful to be in a position to be able to do something about it. This is an important moment and I am proud to be part of a Council that is on the right side of history on this issue. Thank you Mayor Wheeler for including this add package in your proposed budget and continuing to support it.
We’ve increased our contribution to the Joint Office of Homeless Services by $3M.
We are serving more people facing challenges around affordability, eviction, and homelessness than ever. Unfortunately, what the city and county are actually doing to address houselessness gets lost in distracting debates about Wapato or other well-intentioned, but not well-informed approaches. Investing $31.2 million in the Joint Office of Homeless Services will fund the hard work that doesn’t make headlines, but does make a critical difference for thousands of our most vulnerable community members.
We’re Increasing the Business License Tax for the first time in decades.
The rising tide of prosperity in Portland is not lifting all boats. In fact, as the increasing number of people who are insecure in their housing and becoming homeless demonstrates, things are getting worse, not better for many people in Portland. Increasing the BLT now is a great first step toward recognizing how we can divert part of that rising tide to help the people who are struggling to stay afloat.
I am worried about some of the expenditures in this budget. The Council Budget Office started the budget process with an appeal to consider the sustainability of the city’s finances. This budget generates more ongoing resources but increasing authorized staffing at the Portland Police Bureau by 49 positions comes with significant new permanent funding obligations. Business tax revenues will fluctuate with the economy. We are setting ourselves up for a very difficult conversation by making new ongoing commitments to funding more police officers with a funding source that we know is subject to economic forces beyond our control.
Despite my remaining questions and concerns, I respect and want to support Chief Outlaw as she continues to implement her vision for the PPB. And there are some:
As well as the Mayor’s budget note on a deadline for filling the long overdue Community Service Officer positions and my budget note on decreasing the bureaus reliance on overtime, an expensive and undesirable practice.
There are issues that did not get resolved in this budget, I’d like to highlight a couple of the most important issues that need more work:
Neighborhood Coalition Offices.
Coalition offices are important partners in our efforts to connect community to government. The audit in 2016 revealed what many have known for a long time: East Portland’s population continues to grow rapidly while funding for the coalition office has remained the same. It was important that we address this disparity now, which is why we requested additional funding.
I am disappointed that we were not able to secure the additional funding for the East Portland Neighborhood Office. I want to acknowledge that while East Portland has a rapidly growing population, all of the coalition offices are serving more people than they ever have. This is why I am working hard to reduce the fiscal impact of the rebalancing that will need to occur this year.
We’ve identified $44,000 in existing bureau fund dollars that we will direct to EPNO in addition to the $30,000 we’ve received in this proposed budget. I am also working with the Budget Office to redirect cost savings from my office budget to the coalitions.
ONI Director, Suk Rhee, and I are committed to working with all of the coalitions to develop a long-term method for equitably distributing funding. I also look forward to brainstorming new ways to structure this work, and finding efficiencies and cost-savings, so that we can continue to strengthen all of our neighborhood coalitions.
It is vital that we identify ways for Portlanders to share in the prosperity associated with growth before we move forward with plans for infill. We have a turnkey opportunity to do that by developing a financing mechanism for ADU development. I plan to spend the summer working with my colleagues to develop the support necessary to fund this plan in the Fall budget process.
I’m disappointed that this item was not fully funded. I agree that the city should provide accommodations as part of its normal course of business and that bigger bureaus should use existing resources to comply with the law. Smaller bureaus and their community partners do not have enough ongoing resources to provide accommodations with existing resources. We need a long-term strategy to address this problem.
Overall, I’m happy that we were able to work together to get to consensus about the budget. During these chaotic times in politics, it is important to demonstrate that local government can work together to overcome differences and make progress on the most urgent issues in our community.
My thanks go out to my colleagues, bureau directors and staff, my office staff, the Council Budget Office, and especially to the community members who serve us in an advisory capacity and all those who came to our budget listening sessions.
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.
It's hard to believe it's been a year since I took my seat on City Council! While our memories of 2017 may be overshadowed by the chaos of national politics and local tragedies, I hope that we will also remember the ways in which Portlanders fought back to defend our values and stand up for one another. I am particularly proud of the time and energy my office has devoted to tenants’ rights, prioritizing people over profit, protecting our immigrant and refugee neighbors, and becoming better stewards of the environment.
I also appreciate the hard work and accomplishments of our bureau staff in 2017. I'm looking forward to working closely with our newly appointed Bureau Directors -- Rebecca Esau, of the Bureau of Development Services (BDS), and Suk Rhee, of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) -- as we continue our reorganization efforts and improving service to our community members and customers. Some bureau highlights include the swearing in of the New Portlanders Policy Commission and the Information and Referral team stepping up to assist with the response to the Eagle Creek Fire at ONI, and the record-breaking number of permits processed by the Development Services Center at BDS.
As my team and I set our policy goals for 2018, we will also be sure to plan more events to celebrate our city and one another. Last year we honored our small business and arts & culture communities by coordinating or hosting events like Dead Moon Night, Boss Ladies PDX, and the PCC Social Practice Art Show. Other highlights include being the emcee at the Spirit of Portland Awards, where I personally honored Kathleen Saadat and The Raging Grannies, and co-chairing the Regional Arts and Culture Council’s Battle of the Bands. I'm pleased to report that through many of these events, we welcomed hundreds of Portlanders to City Hall for the first time.
In 2017, my team and I learned the lay of the land and adjusted to the routine and demands of City Hall. At times, this meant moderating our ambitions in recognition of the fact that being both an administrator and legislator leaves limited time for discretionary projects. While I am pleased with all that we have accomplished, I also know that we can do better at communicating our efforts to the community, which is something we'll be prioritizing as we move forward.
In this new year, I am looking forward to continuing to fight to make Portland a city that works for all of us. Some of my priorities include: strengthening tenant protections via security deposit reform and creating opportunities for homeownership, supporting ADU development, and bringing back the small business liaison and the “Get Legal” program to assist low-income homeowners at BDS. Through ONI, we hope to demonstrate a new way of conducting civic engagement, and the Cannabis Program will work to proactively and equitably support a growing local industry.
This past year has demanded more of all of us—more courage, more creativity, and more kindness—and many Portlanders have stepped up to the challenge. Cities are now at the forefront of addressing complex challenges such as housing, racial equity, and sustainability. I'm grateful to get to work on these and many other vital issues as your Commissioner.
Best wishes for a new year,
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly
Commissioner Eudaly's Opening Statement at City Council PM Meeting | February 2, 2017
Opening Statement: Commissioner Chloe Eudaly
City Council Meeting PM
February 2, 2017
I have been living and breathing affordable housing and tenants’ rights issues for the past two years. It’s what inspired me to run for City Council and is in no small part why I was elected, because the fact is that the majority of Portlanders support rent stabilization and increasing tenant protections.
Some people have asked me, “What’s the rush on this ordinance?” The fact is members of my team were working on relocation for months before we took office and this housing crisis has been growing for the past decade. So we have to ask: what’s taking so long?
Emotions are high on both sides of this debate. For the past 30 years, landlords have been allowed to involuntarily displace tenants through no-cause and de facto economic evictions. And now we’re asking them to share in the burden that has been wrought on our residents, our communities, our city and our entire region. The fact is we’re all paying for this crisis, whether it’s through the public dollars we spend on affordable housing, rental assistance and homelessness, or the various ways this crisis is harming our neighborhoods, communities, schools, small businesses, local economy and the overall quality of life for all of our residents.
As former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich recently said, “Governing by anecdote is not governing. It’s demagoguery.” And it’s been disappointing and frustrating to witness opponents to tenant protections – whether community members, lobbyists or legislators – resort to playing on the public’s emotions and prejudices rather than basing their positions on facts. But I’m going to share a personal anecdote with you today anyway.
My parents became landlords in 1979, when they bought their second home and moved our family from Gales Creek to Sherwood. Early on, they made a misjudgment in tenants and ended up having to evict them for non-payment of rent and other serious infractions. The tenants responded by breaking every window in the house, filling it with garbage and using it as a dog kennel for an untold number of days, so you can imagine what that looked like. My father was driving home from assessing and photographing the damage on a rainy day in October 1983. He lost control of his vehicle on a tight curve, hit an oncoming truck and died instantly. So, if you’ve come here today to conjure up the bad tenant bogeyman, the one that precludes us from protecting any tenants, lest we somehow benefit him, please save your breath. I have already met him. And I recognize him for what he is: an anomaly among an ocean of good tenants who follow the rules, who desperately need their deposits back, who are highly dependent on their landlords’ good reference, in one of the most competitive rental markets this city has ever seen.
If you have a bad tenant, you have clear legal recourse and the law is weighted in the landlords’ favor. We don’t call our eviction court an “eviction mill” for nothing. If you’ve come here today to argue exemptions for mom-and-pop landlords who may experience some level of financial hardship, if required to pay relocation assistance, let me remind you: landlords have been placing that very same hardship on tenants who are generally lower income and have less financial resources than property owners. This is a temporary emergency ordinance intended to stabilize or assist renters at risk of involuntary displacement during our housing crisis. We hope that it will be short-lived, but that will require the state legislature to overturn the ban on rent control and give the city back its regulatory tools.
In the meantime, there is an easy way to avoid relocation assistance: do not no-cause evict your tenants and don’t raise their rent 10 percent or more per year.
If you’ve come here today to tell us, “We must simply build our way out of this crisis,” I can confidently tell you, as the Commissioner in charge of the Bureau of Development Services and someone with a newfound inside view of our Housing Bureau, it will take decades to build our way out. And that’s only if developers are willing to start building for existing demand, which is not the market rate in luxury housing that they are primarily delivering.
If you’ve come here today to suggest that renters just move or get better jobs, it shows an utter lack of understanding around who is taking the brunt of the impact created by our housing crisis. Seniors and people with disabilities living on fixed incomes don’t have the resources to move or the ability to get better jobs. People of color who have faced historic and ongoing discrimination in both the housing and job markets also tend to have more limited resources and options. Telling someone with limited resources to leave behind their family, their friends and their community, in search of elusive affordable housing elsewhere, is terrible advice.
Finally, this is not a “landlord versus tenant” conversation. We are not seeking to demonize or penalize landlords, but we are asking them to recognize their role in our housing crisis and share in the burden they’re creating, not just for their renters but our entire city, when they choose to involuntarily displace a renter through no fault of the renter. We’ve heard from many landlords who support this ordinance, some of whom will be testifying today, who know that they can profitably operate their business, whether they choose to avoid triggering relocation or not. We don’t blame landlords for not recognizing how the forces of urban renewal, gentrification, displacement and limited tenant protections converged to create this crisis over the past 30 years, but there’s no denying the outcome. Half our residents are renters. Half of renters are cost-burdened by rent. And half of those renters, approximately 75,000 people, live in households that are spending over 50 percent of their income on housing. These households are being forced to choose between paying rent and paying the heating bill, paying rent and paying for vital medical care, paying rent and paying the grocery bill. This is unsustainable, it’s unacceptable, and none of the good people of Portland – renters, homeowners or landlords – should be willing to sit idly by and let this crisis continue unchecked.
Relocation Ordinance FAQ (PDF)