Portland low-income housing tenants speak out after nearly 50% rent hike

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Renters of affordable apartments in North Portland have come to KOIN 6 News after saying their landlord has raised rent by nearly 50% in some cases.

City officials admit that this scenario these tenants find themselves in is the perfect storm with the City Affordable Rent Program (MULTE) expires soon, COVID relief is shrinking, and the state’s decision to now allow the landlord a maximum rent increase of 14.6%.

However, residents KOIN 6 News spoke to said their landlords are raising their rents well past the maximum, which amounts to hundreds of dollars.

Kelsey Schreiner is raising her 4-year-old daughter in a one-bedroom apartment in North Portland while attending school full-time to become a psychologist.

“What am I going to do or how am I potentially going to pay for this?” Schreiner said.

Schreiner was able to pay rent to The Prescott Apartmentnts because the property was part of the city program where the the owner benefits from a tax exemption to offer some of their rooms to low-income tenants at affordable rates.

But Green Cities Enterprise has taken over the Prescott property for the past year and a half. Recently, they sent Schreiner and about 30 other low-income tenants a notice that they would raise the rent in 90 days.

In Schreiner’s case, it increases by $403.

“No one can believe this is legal and it could have happened, the way this program was run and set up was wrong and it failed us,” Schreiner said.

However, the increase in rents of almost 50% is within the legal limit because the city MUTLE tax exemption program allows landlords of buildings under 15 years old to raise rent above the maximum allowed if they give 90 days notice and agree to pay to help relocate tenants.

But the resettlement assistance they offer is only a matter of a few thousand dollars. Struggling tenants said it was not enough to pay first and last month’s rent, security deposits, application fees and moving costs.

Renter Shela Cecchini’s studio rate goes up nearly $200.

“And then from there, I’m like in my head, ‘where am I going to find a place that’s not always as expensive, if not more?’ And many of the programs that still exist in the city that are somewhat affordable for us, they have waiting lists that go on for months and years,” Cecchini said. “We don’t have that kind of time. We are three months old and we feel like time is flying over our heads constantly trying to figure out what is going to happen.

Cecchini told KOIN 6 News that she already spends half her monthly income on rent.

“Suddenly it’s like this little piece of security that I was slowly but surely building for myself has torn out from under me,” she said.

These tenants have officially formed a union to fight for better policies. He said it was concerning that Green City Company had kept all low-income tenants on month-to-month leases for the past year – only to issue 90-day notices of a drastic rent increase in one. one time.

“They are the ones who make us homeless,” Cecchini said. “You create the problem you cry about. I have no sympathy for you.

“Changes need to be made to protect us, like low-income individuals and families,” Schreiner added. “It’s not even affordable anymore.”

KOIN 6 News reached out to Housing Commissioner Dan Ryan, who said “anything and everything is on the table when it comes to anti-displacement strategies, and I’m committed to keeping Portlanders housed by making housing providers whole”.

Ryan added, “This confluence of events — MULTE expiries, diminishing COVID protections, and the state legislature’s recent decision to allow a 14.6% increase in rents — is a concerning storm. For anyone affected by the 14.6% increase, please be aware that relocation assistance still applies in the City of Portland for a rent increase of 10% or more. If your housing provider increases the rent by 10% or more in Portland, you are eligible for relocation assistance. My team will share additional information regarding this issue and our comprehensive eviction prevention efforts as soon as possible, and we ask for the patience of Prescott residents as we identify immediate solutions.

KOIN 6 News contacted Green City Company but received no response.

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