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The City of Portland, Oregon

Nick Fish

Commissioner, City of Portland

phone: 503-823-3589

Email: nick@portlandoregon.gov

1221 S.W. 4th, Room 240, Portland, OR 97204

Commissioner Nick Fish Statement on Renter Screening and Security Deposit Policy

June 19, 2019

Today, Council approved a proposal introduced by Commissioner Eudaly to reform rental screening and security deposit requirements.

You can read Nick's statement during the vote below:

“I’d like to thank my colleague Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, and her Director of Policy Jamey Duhamel for bringing this policy forward.

In particular, I’d like to thank them for taking the time to get it right.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do with big, meaningful policy like this is to wait. But the additional time has given the community and the Council the opportunity to weigh in, make suggestions, and improve this policy.

I’d like to thank many of our key community stakeholders for the hundreds of hours they volunteered to helping us strengthen this policy.

Special thanks to:

  • Katrina Holland with the Community Alliance of Tenants
  • Allan Lazo with the Fair Housing Council of Oregon
  • Hannah Holloway with the Urban League of Portland
  • Legal Aid Oregon
  • The Oregon Law Center
  • The Coalition of Communities of Color
  • SEIU Local 49
  • Portland for Everyone
  • The New Portlanders Policy Commission
  • Dozens of affordable housing providers
  • Elected officials
  • And the hundreds of community members who came out to testify over these past few months.

In my ten years on Council, I have been focused on removing barriers – in the workplace, in housing, and in our economy.

From helping individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities find meaningful work at the City; to the creation of our first Fair Housing Action Plan; to “Banning the Box,” removing the question of criminal history on job applications; to creating Harper’s Playground, the most inclusive and accessible playground in Portland; to setting a $15 minimum wage for City employees; and to removing gender designations and creating all-user restrooms across the city.

They all reflect a simple truth: when you remove arbitrary barriers, everybody wins.

This proposal has a lot of individual components that I deeply support.

  • Security deposit reforms
  • Standardized applications for tenants
  • Tools for more fully implementing and supporting the Fair Housing Act
  • Education for landlords and tenants
  • Clear rules for the entire community to abide by

We continue to hear concerns from critics.

They need more time.

These regulations are burdensome.

Any new regulation will drive up the costs of housing.

And that this could lead to a decrease in supply.

I appreciate that Commissioner Eudaly has extended the roll out until next year.

This will give us time to do an education campaign with landlords and tenants. I am also pleased that Council approved my amendment to require annual reports.

As we draft regulations, and work with the community, we will have the flexibility to make changes as necessary to ensure our goals are met without unduly burdening any landlords.

In my role as a policy maker, constructive criticism is welcome if it leads to improvement. But I reject efforts by some to mischaracterize the law, and to target and demonize classes of people, like those exiting the criminal justice system who deserve a second chance.

During my service, we have made big investments in combatting homelessness and increasing the supply of affordable housing.

Since Commissioner Eudaly joined this Council, we have sharpened our focus on the rights of renters, building in protections for the 47% of people who rent in our community, many of whom are severely rent burdened.

Chloe, I appreciate your leadership on this issue.

I vote aye.”