Oregon Leads Way by Enacting Rent Control Law to Address Homelessness


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Rising rents lead to evictions and homelessness. In February 2019, the state of Oregon passed a Senate Bill 608 to implement the first statewide rent control in the nation, Yasmeen Wafai reported for YES! Magazine in March 2019. The Oregon law, which implemented a seven percent annual rent cap, is now serving as a model for similar legislation in other states, including Washington and California, YES! Magazine reported.

Wafai’s story recounts the experience of a Portland, Oregon, couple, Andy Mangels and Don Hood, whose landlord raised their rent by 113 percent, after new management took over ownership of the building they’d been living in for more than three decades. The extreme increase in their rent was unaffordable and forced Mangels and Hood to look for another home.

Alison McIntosh, policy and communications director for Neighborhood Partnerships in Oregon, a nonprofit that helps low-income people with financial security and housing stability, told YES! Magazine, ““Housing stability and housing opportunity are really fundamental for everything.”

Advocates for rent control legislation in other states hope to do even better than Oregon has done.  Campaigns in Washington and California aim to establish three percent rent caps, YES! Magazine reported.

As Wafai wrote, marginalized communities—including people of color, the elderly, and people with disabilities—are “most susceptible” to eviction and displacement due to rent hikes.

Coverage of Oregon’s passage of the rent control law was mostly limited to local news outlets, such as the Statesman Journal (Salem, OR) and the Bulletin (Bend, OR). The New York Times published an article anticipating Oregon’s passage of the bill. In March 2019, NPR’s “Planet Money” newsletter featured an article about a number of campaigns for rent control around the US, which mentioned the passage of the Oregon law.

Source: Yasmeen Wafai, “Can Rent Control Protect Communities?” YES! Magazine, March 22, 2019, https://www.yesmagazine.org/economy/2019/03/22/rent-control-protect-communities/.

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