Thank you to the hundreds of Portlanders who have written, called and who testified today regarding Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s proposal for tenant relocation assistance. The stories we have heard from current and former tenants as well as the concerns from landlords on how these proposals affect their livelihoods echo many of the concerns I heard as Portland Housing Commissioner and continue to hear during our city’s housing emergency.
As we know, vulnerable Portlanders on fixed incomes as well as working families have been forced out of their homes and kids’ are not able to stay in their schools because of either steep rent increases or no cause evictions. This reality is more than anecdotal. Forty-five percent of Portland households are renters and more than half of them are cost-burdened, paying more than 30% of their income on rent. To maintain the economically diverse neighborhoods that make Portland thrive, this is clearly unsustainable.
In the last few years, City Council has dramatically increased the funding available to add thousands of new units of permanently affordable housing. More permanently affordable housing is the long-term solution to this crisis, but it does not help the families and children who are faced with the imminent threat of homelessness or displacement now.
I do not believe this policy is perfect, but I believe it is necessary and I appreciate Commissioner Eudaly and Mayor Wheeler's leadership on this issue.
I take seriously the feedback and candor of those who believe this is the wrong solution, and I appreciate the robust discussion we had at today’s hearing regarding those concerns. I believe the next eight months this policy is in operation will be critical in gauging whether it is working and how it may need to be adjusted.
The crisis renters are facing is real and immediate and this ordinance provides us an avenue to address this crisis now.