As the executive director of Human Solutions, a nonprofit agency that delivers solutions to the housing crisis, I write in support for House Bill 2004 and to respond to the Portland Tribune's recent editorial ("Fix the housing bill while there is time," April 13, 2017.)
Human Solutions develops and operates affordable rental housing, supports families in private market housing with rental assistance, operates two emergency shelters, and helps families to gain employment in East Portland and East Multnomah County.
As a landlord, emergency shelter operator and as an agency partnering with private landlords to secure homes for working families, we see first-hand the devastating impacts of our housing crisis. Human Solutions strongly supports House Bill 2004 and the stability it promises for Oregon's families and children. Every day, working families who have paid their rent and met the terms of their lease come to us because they are facing homelessness because of a no-cause eviction or a steep rent increase they cannot afford.
No-cause evictions are the single-most common reason provided by families coming into our family shelter. With all of the innovative programs we offer, we have none that can help a family that has received a no-cause eviction to keep their home so their kids can finish the school year or so parents can remain close to work. These currently lawful evictions, initiated on short notice by landlords without a stated reason, uproot kids from schools and friends, and scar families with the shame and trauma of homelessness and hopelessness.
No one deserves such treatment.
Without reform of our landlord-tenant laws, Oregon will continue to raise a generation of kids in our communities who experience homelessness at record rates. Every social indicator we use tells us that when children are forced to move, change schools or experience homelessness, they lose opportunities to learn, to form lasting bonds of friendship, to maintain self-esteem and the physical and emotional health necessary for child development. This damages the health of our kids, our schools and communities.
The Oregon Legislature can protect families by passing House Bill 2004, which balances the economic interests of tenants, landlords and taxpayers. The legislation promotes family stability and allows communities experiencing displacement, homelessness and housing instability to consider reasonable rent stabilization as another tool to strengthen our social fabric. This legislation does not enact rent control, as suggested by your editorial. Its passage will simply enable the very kind of local dialogue — between renters, landlords, advocates and concerned community members — to craft a solution to escalating rents while promoting the continued development of needed affordable housing.
As the owner of over 700 rental units, we know the challenges and economic risks landlords face every day. Human Solutions has, for decades, successfully operated hundreds of units of rental housing without the use of no-cause evictions. We are able to provide safe properties for families and their neighbors and provide basic protections for our tenants, all while keeping rent increases reasonable and without evictions that lack a stated cause.
House Bill 2004 delivers critical balance to our system by promoting a level of housing stability that every family needs and deserves. I implore our Legislature to do right by Oregon's next generation and pass this legislation.