"A no-cause eviction leaves a survivor — who has done nothing wrong — scrambling, and often failing, to secure new housing."
Clackamas Women’s Services Emergency Shelter & Housing Team
(left to right): Tammy Gustaveson, Case Manager; Liliana Weissman, Latina Bilingual/Bicultural Case Manager; Bethany Morris, Case Manager; Val Stewart, Russian Bilingual/Bicultural Case Manager; Angie Drake, Housing Program Manager
For over 30 years, Clackamas Women’s Services (CWS) has provided critical services — including emergency and confidential shelter, a 24/7 crisis line, mental health counseling, support groups, legal advocacy, and community education — to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, elder abuse, and human trafficking. As emergency shelter and housing case managers at CWS, our mission is to foster the self-empowerment of survivors to enjoy lives free from abuse, and to achieve safety, stability, and self-sufficiency.
Housing is especially critical in this pursuit, as it serves as the foundation of stability, providing consistency for kids in attending school, and helping survivors stay connected to their community. Unfortunately, affordable housing is becoming increasingly elusive for survivors and their families. In the past few years, we have all seen rental costs skyrocket and vacancy rates plummet. This disproportionately affects the women and children we serve, who are often forced to either stay in the abusive relationship or face homelessness.
Even for those working full-time or multiple jobs, the majority still don’t earn enough to afford rent, especially as a “fair market” rate for a two-bedroom apartment in Clackamas County is now a staggering $1,242 — not to mention the approximately $3,000-$4,000 often required in move-in costs. And with so few rental units available overall, survivors now have little to no choice in where they live, which, in Clackamas County, is often in a rural area with which they aren’t familiar, where they often lack access to public transportation.
Vacancy rates foster fierce competition – as case managers, we often show up an hour early for an available unit’s open house, only to find a long line of people already waiting, and then race through the application process in the hope of being one of the first to submit it.
Even if survivors are lucky enough to find housing, they still have to contend with no-cause evictions, which we have seen some bad-actor landlords regularly use in retaliation to requested repairs. We also know of landlords who frequently issue no-cause evictions so that they can pocket deposits from new tenants, as well as raise the rent yet again. A no-cause eviction leaves a survivor — who has done nothing wrong — scrambling, and often failing, to secure new housing.
There are countless stories of survivors in our community struggling with too-high rents, lack of options, and the looming threat of no-cause evictions. One story that particularly stands out is that of a mother of two young children. She had been suffering in an abusive marriage for over a decade when she reached out to us. She is desperate to leave and has been calling our crisis line regularly for safety planning support. Unfortunately, we do not have space at our shelter and all housing assistance programs in Clackamas County currently have a 1-3 year wait. Although she works full time, she cannot afford to rent her own apartment. If we don’t find her a resource, she will most likely be forced to go to a homeless shelter in Multnomah County, or stay with her abuser. We are worried about her safety.
Sadly, her story is not unique. Many of our staff members are renters as well, so this is something they likewise experience in their personal lives. The women and children we serve, as well as our own families, desperately need rent stabilization and just-cause evictions. From all of us on the Emergency Shelter and Housing Team, we urge you to pass HB 2004 A.