" I just want us to have a decent place to live where [my grandson] can be safe."
Anita, a 60-year-old hospice aide, lives in Hillsboro with her 8-year-old grandson (pictured to the right) whom she’s raised since birth. She faces a rent increase from new owners that is forcing her to find a new home, but she has been unable to to find a place that she can afford. Like many others in Oregon, she doesn’t know what she’ll do.
My name is Anita Cohen. I am a 60-year-old single grandmother, and I have lived in Oregon since I was 12 years old. In that time, I have seen many changes in our neighborhoods and housing, but nothing has affected me like the increasing rent prices over the past couple of years. I take care of my 8-year-old grandson, and we are being priced out of our home. I don’t know what we’ll do next.
After separating from my long-term partner about four years ago, I was lucky enough to find a two-bedroom townhouse around the corner from where we had been living. It was important to that we stay in the area so my grandson could go to school with the children he knew from our street. My partner had owned the house we lived in, so any place we found would affect my budget. At the time, the rent was affordable at $820 a month. Even when our home was sold and the new owners raised the rent to $860 and then $900, it was still within my budget.
Unfortunately, our home just went on the market and quickly sold again. The new owners will raise the rent again to $1150 or $1200 to cover their costs, and that is something I can’t afford. I work a full-time job as a hospice aide at Kaiser, and even with that steady income, the rent prices are too high. For me and other people with children in a position where we are priced out and have to move, I don’t know how we’re going to afford another place. I’ve been looking
for a new home for my grandson and me, but I haven’t been able to find a 2-bedroom apartment within my budget. At best, we will need to downsize to a 1-bedroom apartment, but even those are getting expensive.
Most important to me is my grandson. He’s in school, and we need to find a place that will allow him to continue at the same school next year. I don’t want him to have to move away from his friends and things he’s familiar with. A situation like that is stressful for a child. He shouldn’t have to worry about us not being able to find a place. I try to shield him from it. I assure him that we’ll be fine, but I know that he’s aware of some of it. I’ve been taking care of him since he was born; it’s not hard to notice that he picks up on the tension. I just want us to have a decent place to live where he can be safe.
Legislators need to know that it’s not just about having to move, it’s the uncertainty and the stress of change when you don’t know what you’ll do next. I hope they do the right thing and make sure families like mine don’t have to go through the same thing that I am going through. I hope my story makes a difference for somebody.