Portland rentals: ‘Greed overcoming neighborhoods’

Commissioner Nick Fish said housing rentals are 'a crisis'

Community Alliance of Tenants at a Portland rally, Sept. 15, 2015 (KOIN)
Community Alliance of Tenants at a Portland rally, Sept. 15, 2015 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The calculus of rental housing goes like this: Rental prices are going up, wages remain stagnant and more people than ever are falling through the cracks.

Katrina Holland with the Community Alliance of Tenants said, “Within a matter of minutes our world can be turned completely upside down by an envelope on our doors with a note inside that says we’re upgrading the building for higher rents. It’s not personal.”

Quick, no-cause evictions hurt families, kids’ learning, job and financial stability, Holland said. Most of the time the renter is paying rent, but a building owner simply wants people out so they can do improvements and raise rent.

The alliance called for an immediate one-year moratorium on no-cause evictions and a mandatory one-year notice when a landlord wants to raise rent by more than 5%.

“Greed is overcoming many of our neighborhoods,” Augustana Lutheran Church Pastor Mark Knudsen said. “People are coming with money as if that should dictate the neighborhoods we live in. A developer can come and buy a building and evict everyone in 30 days. That is not just.”

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, the former head of the Portland Housing Bureau, said he supports increasing the share of urban renewal money that goes to building more affordable housing. That’s about $70 million to build more affordable places to live.

“Lets call it what it is. It’s a crisis,” Fish said. “What you’ve got in Portland and cities across the country is a very real threat to the very fabric of our community. Are we lurching towards becoming like a San Francisco where only the very rich and the very poor live in the city and the middle class is displaced?”

The seeds of renter’s discontent are in the ground. Many people in the crowd hope they’ll grow into real relief for renters struggling to stay in the place they call home.

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