December 18, 2023

It's Monday. 🌺 A good start.

Today's weather: 🌧️ Rain likely today and overnight. High 48, low 44.

Situational awareness: The lower-deck pedestrian and bike path of the Steel Bridge will be closed 7am-6pm today through Friday for bridge repairs. The upper-deck sidewalk will be open.

Today's newsletter is 798 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Advocates push for more rental assistance

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Eviction filings in Oregon continue to exceed pre-pandemic levels and could increase if lawmakers do not set aside additional funds for emergency rental assistance, according to local housing experts.

Why it matters: The state's housing affordability crisis, coupled with rising inflation and idling housing production, has led many tenants to fall behind on rent, putting them at risk of losing their homes, Sybil Hebb, director of legislative advocacy at the Oregon Law Center, tells Axios.

  • "Homelessness rates are driven by housing prices and affordability," she says. "None of that is going to get solved overnight, but we know it's twice as expensive to get people rehoused once they've lost housing."

Driving the news: The Oregon Law Center and several other nonprofit service providers — including Fair Shot and Stable Homes for Oregon Families — are planning to ask lawmakers for an additional $45 million for eviction protection in the next legislative session, which begins in February.

  • The groups originally asked for $100 million during the last session, but only $55 million out of Gov. Tina Kotek's $2.5 billion budget for Oregon Housing and Community Services was allocated for rental assistance and eviction protections for the next two years.

Advocates say those funds have all but dried up within the last few months.

  • "We have put those resources to good use, but it is rapidly going out the door," Hebb says. "We know we are not going to make it with the currently allocated resources."
  • Lauren Everett, a spokesperson for Portland Tenants United, says she hasn't "heard of there being any rent assistance still available."

By the numbers: Prior to the pandemic, in 2019 and early 2020, Oregon landlords filed an average of 1,500 eviction lawsuits a month, according to state data collected by Evicted in Oregon, an eviction tracking project from Portland State University.

  • From October 2022 to October 2023, an average of 2,000 eviction lawsuits were filed each month — 82% of those cases were for nonpayment, Emily Rena-Dozier, an attorney at the Oregon Law Center, tells Axios.

Go deeper

2. Rose City Rundown

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

⚖️ The county judge who ruled last month that Oregon's voter-approved gun restrictions are unconstitutional will hear objections to his findings before signing his final order, which likely will be appealed. (The Oregonian)

💰 A $600 million grant has been awarded to the Interstate 5 bridge replacement project from the U.S. Department of Transportation, members of Congress announced Friday. The money will cover between 8% and 12% of the project. (AP)

🦫 OSU and Washington State University now have full control over the Pac-12 following a Friday court ruling in Washington state. (Axios)

  • The schools now get to decide how to spend the conference's money, over the protests of 10 schools departing the conference.

🚦 A Multnomah County ban on flavored tobacco products got the green light to start in January, even though a lawsuit contesting the ban is being appealed. (Willamette Week)

3. "Why are eggs so expensive" tops search trend

Data: Google Trends; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios
Data: Google Trends; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Oregonians wanted to know why eggs were so expensive this year.

  • So did the rest of the country.

Driving the news: Although egg prices have been falling since January, eggs stand out as the item most searched by Americans asking, "Why are ___ so expensive?" reports Axios' Jacque Schrag.

The intrigue: This is the first time a single topic has been so ubiquitous across the country. No matter where you live in the U.S., you were impacted by 2023's record-high egg prices.

  • This is the only time eggs have appeared on Oregon's list, per a new analysis by Google Trends that goes back to 2012.

Zoom in: Here are Oregon's most-searched items with the "Why is ___ so expensive?" since then.

⛽️ Gas. In 2022 and a decade earlier, in 2012.

🪵 Lumber. In 2021. Remember the pandemic construction disruptions?

ğŸŽ“ College. The overwhelmingly dominant search of the last decade nationally — and topping Oregon searches every year between 2013 and 2020 except one.

🧁 Vanilla. The outlier, which in 2018 beat out Oregon searches about college costs.

  • We searched, "Why was vanilla so expensive in 2018?" Apparently, part of the problem was vacuum packing green vanilla beans before they were cured.

What will it be next year?

4. 📸 Photo to go: Ice designs

Ice formations along twigs at Lolo Pass on Saturday. Photo: Emily Harris/Axios

With so little snow on Mount Hood, Emily went for a bike ride instead.

  • She sent this photo of interesting ice formations — thin frozen planes on just one side of twigs at Lolo Pass, elevation 5,233 feet.

Pro tip: Muddy Fork Road (FS 1828) — off Lolo Pass Road but about 3,000 feet lower — is closed to cars for the winter by a metal gate blocking the bridge over the Sandy River.

  • That means it's a nice spot for a short winter bike ride — there's about 2 miles of pavement after the bridge — as long as it stays dry and above freezing.

🗻 Emily is still on the mountain. See you tomorrow!

🏂 Meira is remembering how the first time she went snowboarding (in Big Bear circa 2006), she fractured her left wrist and was rescued by a golden retriever on a snowmobile.

This newsletter was edited by Rachel La Corte and copy edited by Khalid Adad.