A declared “Renters State of Emergency” was led by CAT (The Community Alliance of Tenants) in a press conference Tuesday evening September 15th from 6-8 pm, held in Peninsula Park at 700 Rosa Parks Way.
Pastor Mark Knutson of Augustana Lutheran Church Stands in Solidarity
Over 150 renters and supporters came out in force, stood in line and signed in at the registration table receiving a copy of the RENTERS SOS packet along with Tenants Priced Out petition flyers and copies of the up-coming Portland Tenants Union information hand out.
Tenants whose lives have been turned upside down by the exploding rent increases of 300 – 500 plus dollars per month eagerly signed the waiver and volunteered to have their pictures taken holding the Renters State of Emergency sign documenting their personal rent displacement stories.
As a new CAT volunteer working the registration table, I listened intently as tenants recounted their dire situations. One man in his forties said he’d recently received a 300 dollar increase in his rent, has no savings left and has found no available rental prospects within his price range. He stated, “I have no idea what I’m going to do now.” Having completed his registration he stared blankly into the stack of releases as the crowd swarmed in line behind him, nudging him out of their path. His presence quickly became subsumed as another attendee took his place at the front of the line.
As I handed a twenty something African-American young lady the State of Emergency Packet, I asked if she’d like to share her rent story and have her picture taken. She replied, “I’m already homeless” as she dropped her head and paused standing at the side of the table. Feeling a sudden surge of female protectiveness, I moved towards her and asked, “Do you at least have some type of shelter or something?” She stated, ” I had to move after they raised my rent and now I have bad credit, so I can’t qualify for another apartment. My mom let me stay with her for a while, but then she got evicted because of me and now we’re both homeless.” Stunned, all I could do was offer her a hug as I encouraged her to take action by getting her picture taken and submitting her story to CAT. She gallantly signed the waiver and marched over towards the photographer.
Witnessing the downward spiral of people’s lives is a gripping experience, especially being a take charge type of person who takes pride in being a problem solver. Tonight, I had no answers for anyone including myself. Today I had personal conversations with 3 homeless people, two of which were rent displaced and the other one admitted his alcoholism led to his living on the streets. At least in the case with the young male homeless alcoholic, help was readily available. His phone rang as we spoke. It was his sponsor calling to pick him up to take him to treatment. Unlike the others he gave out a big sigh of relief and had a bright smile on his face at the end of our conversation.
Homelessness of a Family
Listening as this young hispanic family held up signs in the staging area as their father gave his moving testimony of the devastating impact homelessness has had on their family caused by unsustainable rent increases was a heart-wrenching experience.
A call out to the city of Portland
CAT’s Deputy Director Katrina Holland called on local officials and local landlords to agree to temporary, immediate solutions to the housing crisis: “We are calling for an immediate moratorium of no-cause terminations for one year. We are also demanding that rent raises over 5% have a mandatory minimum period of one year. 30 or 60 day is not enough, either to move quickly or absorb a shocking rent increase, especially in today’s disaster-like housing crisis. We are also calling on sympathetic landlords themselves to sign the Renters SOS Landlord Pledge and voluntarily agree to protect their own tenants from displacement.”
How Can You Offer Your Support?
Read the August post: ” The Rent Bomb”
Click on and sign our Tenant Petition
Spread the word on social media
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