Renters rally for stable housing legislation

Secure Homes for Oregon Families organized the rally

Renters gather for a rally in Salem. September 22, 2016, (KOIN)
Renters gather for a rally in Salem. September 22, 2016, (KOIN)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Renters gathered for a rally on Thursday in Salem to push for stable housing legislation.

Oregon legislators will be introducing more bills to try to alleviate the housing crisis when they reconvene in February 2017.

The coalition behind the event, Secure Homes for Oregon Families, organized the rally as part of National Renters’ Day of Action. It was one of 52 around the U.S.

Renters want legislation that ensures “predictability, fairness and stability for Oregon families who rent homes.”

Those at the rally are calling for legislative reform in the way of just cause eviction and rent stabilization.

At the rally, participants shared stories about the impact of losing their homes through no cause eviction and triple-digit rent increases

One renter who shared his personal struggle was Chris McKenzie of Tigard.

“Halloween is my eviction date,” McKenzie said.

He says all the tenants in his complex woke up to a 90-day notice with no real explanation why. He’s concerned about the impact on school-aged children.

“All of those kids will be moved around town and displaced,” McKenzie said. “People finding new places to live is really a nightmare right now.”

He said outside his building, another consequence of the housing crisis is playing out.

“We have homeless people stealing from us in the middle of the night. It’s like a cannibalizing of things right now, nobody is even paying attention,” McKenzie said.

With the deadline for drafts of housing bills coming up on Monday, Sept. 26, tenants are pushing legislators for change.

“We are also asking legislators to pass policies called rent stabilization, which would give tenants some certainty of what they are expected to pay in the future,” said Alison McIntosh, Deputy Director for Police and Communication at Neighborhood Partnerships. 

She feels legislators today should better understand the housing crisis, which has reached all corners of the state.

“We are hearing stories about teachers staying in their van because there is no affordable place to rent,” McIntosh said. “We are hearing stories of triple-digit rent increases in places like Albany, Medford.”

Representative Julie Parrish says to expect some new bills to come out of this push for actions from renter’s rights groups.

“We are all working on something, I think to row the boat together to try to solve the problem,” Parrish said. “So you definitely will see a variety of bills coming out from people proposing rent control to people proposing land use changes.”

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