"HB 2004 will help families remain stable, to be able to stay in the same place, and help to keep rent within reach."
Kasil is originally from Micronesia and has lived in Portland for the past ten years and works full time at Portland International Airport. She lost her apartment in 2015 and now lives with her son and granddaughters due to the overwhelming rental prices.
I work full time at PDX airport. I’ve worked there for 9 years. I make minimum wage helping passengers who need assistance make to their planes on time. I work hard at my job to make ends meet and provide for my family. Apartments in Portland are very expensive. When I moved into my last apartment, I had to accept a rent increase. I had to move because when my landlord fixed the kitchen, he wanted me to pay for it. It would have cost me $600. I don’t have extra money to pay for that. I had paid $695 per month, but my new apartment cost $770 per month when I moved there in 2011. My rent kept going up. In 2015, it went from $770 to $820 a month, and then about two months later, it went up from $820 to $920. It just kept going up. I only made about $1100 a month. Every month, I had to pay $75 in late fees so that I could pay half of my rent when I got my first paycheck, and then the other half of my rent when I got my second paycheck. I paid my rent each month, but it was hard every month. When I was evicted, I was paying $920 per month. My rent was almost 90% of my income.
Even though I felt that my landlord didn’t make repairs when I asked for them, and didn’t adequately maintain my apartment, I kept paying. The heater didn’t work. There was mold on the walls. For a month, the lock on my front door didn’t work. I needed a place to stay. We all need a place to live. My apartment was good because it was close to my work, at the airport. But every month was a struggle. When you just barely make it, a small thing can change a lot. 2015 was a hard year for me. In October of 2015, my rent money was stolen from me at work, just before I was going to pay. When you only have a little money, one problem is a crisis. I was evicted.
My landlord refused to let me pay my rent later. I didn’t have anyone to turn to. Suddenly, I realized that I would be homeless. I learned that most people who I know who are homeless don’t live on the street. Their families scatter, and everyone just stays with friends, filling space where they can. My sons moved to Salem, Vancouver. and elsewhere in Portland. I stayed with friends, with anyone who had a place to share. I remember how cold it was, looking for an apartment after work during the holidays. Just a few months ago, a man knocked on my door. He asked if he could have a place to sleep for the night. I saw how close I had been to being in the same situation as him.
My family still isn’t back together. It took me over 6 months to find a place to live. I’m now living with one of my sons and my granddaughters. We found a place to live, but we’re still just getting by. I have friends who are homeless, I have neighbor who are homeless, I have a cousin who is homeless; they just can’t afford to keep moving, keep paying deposits, and keep paying higher rent. How am I supposed to save if any raise I get just goes to my landlord? I can’t get any farther from being homeless if all my extra money just goes to rent.
People’s lives are very important, and it is difficult to resettle again. Moving with your family is difficult, especially when you don’t choose to. HB 2004 will help families remain stable, to be able to stay in the same place, and help to keep rent within reach. I now live farther from work, two of my boys are still living elsewhere, and each month I must be careful to be able pay rent. I think that the legislature needs to decide if they will be on the side of families like mine, or if they will help keep landlords making money. We already have a housing crisis. You have a chance to slow it down.