Jun 6, 2024 - News

Renters missing out on eviction help

A line chart that visualizes monthly eviction filings in Oregon from January 2020 to April 2024. The data shows a significant drop from 1,656 filings in January 2020 to 124 in April 2020, likely due to pandemic-related eviction moratoriums. Filings gradually increased thereafter, peaking at 2,390 in October 2022. The trend fluctuates but generally rises over time.
Eviction notices are on the rise, mostly for nonpayment of rent, and a new study shows many people don't know how to access help to try and stay in their homes. Data: Court records via Evicted in Oregon; Chart: Axios Visuals

Tenants behind on rent often can't access available legal and other help because the process is too complicated, a new Portland State University study finds.

Why it matters: Eviction notice levels in Oregon are again above pre-pandemic levels, according to Evicted in Oregon, a PSU tracking project.

  • Kim McCarty, executive director of nonprofit Community Alliance of Tenants, said the study should signal policymakers that almost doubling the number of evictions without growing shelter space is causing a crisis.

Driving the news: PSU researchers conducted focus groups with 68 people in Multnomah County served with eviction notices after 2020, asking them how they felt and reacted to their new situations.

Zoom in: The study found 58% moved out without trying to fight their evictions, with 17% saying they felt completely overwhelmed and "had no idea what to do."

Reality check: Study author Natalie Cholula told Axios many more people than those who receive notices are likely evicted as most move out long before they receive such notifications.

  • She said elderly people and those with language barriers often have the hardest time dealing with eviction or rent-relief-related paperwork that can be onerous to complete.
  • "The majority of the burden falls on the tenants for them to remain housed," said Cholula.

What's next: McCarty said in the next state legislative session her organization will push for more rental assistance for emergencies such as severe illnesses and job losses, not just aid during pandemics.

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