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COVID-19 (Disease), Housing -- Portland Metropolitan Area


In mid-March, Oregon leaders ordered unprecedented ‘stay home’ measures to slow the spread of the pandemic Covid-19 virus. The economic impact was immediate, with entire sectors of business in ‘shut down’ mode and others limiting their activity. These emergency orders, necessary for public health, had a dual impact for workers: many were quickly laid off from temporarily closed businesses, while others deemed essential were at risk of viral transmission. Recognizing the potential that many tenants would not be able to pay their rent without work, governments at all levels moved quickly to enact temporary moratoriums on eviction and on foreclosure for those who could not pay rent and mortgages. While the statewide moratorium was extended until the end of September, 2020, Oregon tenants remain economically vulnerable. The National Equity Atlas estimates that 176,000 Oregon renter households are at risk of eviction at the expiration of the moratorium. The circumstances demand significant, large scale policy intervention to prevent a mass eviction and houselessness event.

Under routine policy-making circumstances, we rely largely on data from the real estate and housing industry, with limited knowledge about those living in rental housing. Faced with entirely new circumstances, policymakers need information and analysis to fill those gaps, so that resource allocations and new policies can meet the needs of tenants, ensuring stability for renting households and their communities. This research, conducted in collaboration by Community Alliance of Tenants with Portland State University, provides data on tenants’ experiences and choices during the pandemic. The report includes data from 585 calls to CAT’s hotline, which receives calls for assistance from around the state; and a new survey conducted among tenants in July. The 460 survey responses show that tenants face growing housing insecurity as the economic crisis erodes their ability to pay the rent and meet other needs.


A Research Justice Collaboration Community Alliance of Tenants Portland State University

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