Salem, Ore.—With the drop of the gavel today to mark the end of the 2017 Oregon legislative session, it became official that essential tenant protections in HB 2004 did not pass the Oregon legislature.
In a state with a record number of homeless children and in spite of the support of many state representatives and senators, county commissioners, mayors, city council members, school board members and a diverse statewide coalition, this is a failure of leadership.
HB 2004 as introduced would have allowed local communities to implement reasonable rent stabilization policies to protect tenants from skyrocketing rents while providing a fair rate of return for landlords. It would also prevented the use of no-cause evictions that allow landlords to evict people from their homes without reason and without justice. The bill was amended many times in concessions to the landlord lobby, realtors, and developers to remove rent stabilization provisions, and to limit no-cause evictions rather than prohibit them. Even with those compromises, the bill was never brought to a full Senate vote after a massive misinformation campaign about the effects of the bill led by those opposing the bill.
“The failure of HB 2004 means the housing crisis in Oregon will continue to displace people from their homes. Rents will likely continue to skyrocket. Children, families, and individuals will get evicted through no fault of their own and Oregon’s housing laws will continue to provide cover for discriminatory and retaliatory eviction practices,” said Katrina Holland, Executive Director of the Oregon Community Alliance of Tenants. “Without tenant protections, we know racial housing segregation and poverty will deepen, communities will be disrupted, and more people may tragically lose their lives on the street.”
Ahrien Johnson of Ashland has first-hand experience with how the lack of renter protections play out in Oregon. After paying his rent on time and never hearing any complaints from his landlord, he was evicted without cause from his home and the landlord provided no reason. The only home he was able to find was one that cost 50 percent more than he was paying. “I am deeply disappointed in the state legislature for supporting profiteering developers, property managers, and the landlord lobby over the 40 percent of Oregonians who rent their homes as I do and are also at risk for no-cause eviction, rent spikes and displacement,” says Johnson.
While House Bill 2004 failed to pass, the campaign in support of tenants’ rights energized an unprecedented statewide coalition: including more than 40 county commissioners, mayors, city council members, school board members and other local officials for whom the housing crisis is a top priority.
“When we started this session, there were many lawmakers who were a ‘strong no’ on any kind of renter protection but over the past six months, thousands of renters and their supporters spoke out in favor of HB 2004," said Bandana Shrestha, Director of Community Engagement, AARP Oregon. "They wrote, called and visited with their lawmakers to share their own stories, some traveling hours to get to the capitol. They showed up at rallies, public hearings, town halls, and community-led listening sessions. Their efforts helped show lawmakers what’s at stake in our communities and changed the minds of many.”
Stable Homes for Oregon families thanks the lawmakers who voted for HB 2004, and specifically thanks Senators and Representatives who sponsored the bill, including Chief Co-Sponsors Representatives Gorsek, Piluso, Power, Hernandez, and Senators Dembrow, Gelser, Monnes Anderson, as well as Representatives Alonso Leon, Doherty, Holvey, Keny-Guyer, Kotek, Malstrom, McLain, Nosse, Rayfield, Sanchez, Smith Warner, and Senators Manning, Riley and Taylor and also Senator Burdick who worked so hard for the bill’s passage.