PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A group representing Oregon landlords is calling on Gov. Kate Brown to deny a Portland City Council request to waive residential and commercial rent and mortgage payments for those affected economically by the coronavirus.

In a letter sent to Brown on Thursday, Multifamily NW said the request is “dangerous to our community in the near term” and would “result in a cascading series of events threatening our basic economic structures.”

Portland City Council presented a letter on Wednesday calling on state and federally-elected leaders to temporarily forgive all rent and mortgage payments for those impacted financially by COVID-19. About half of Portland’s population are renters.

City leaders wrote the following:

“Despite the forbearance for federally backed loans, homeowners will continue to accrue
normally scheduled fees, penalties, and interest, which they will still owe with the deferred
payments after the forbearance period is over. Additionally, we have become aware that many
lenders are not offering reasonable repayment plans. According to the Federal Reserve’s most
recent annual survey of the economic well-being of U.S. households, almost 40 percent of
Americans do not have cash on hand to cover an unexpected expense of $400. Without a
moratorium and forgiveness of residential rent and mortgage payments, we are putting tens of
thousands of Portlanders who currently have housing at risk of becoming destitute or homeless
as a result of this public health crisis.”

Read the Portland City Council letter in its entirety below

Multifamily NW response

Multifamily NW said the idea of suspending rents and mortgage payments would put thousands of other Oregonians are risk.

“We hire a lot of folks out there—security, landscape, roofers to fix the leak in the roof. All of these people get impacted if we can’t bring them in and the residents in the unit don’t get the services they need,” said Multifamily NW Executive Director Deborah Imse.

The organization also worried property taxes on the buildings would not be able to be paid—money needed to help pay for everything from schools to first responders.

Multifamily NW’s letter reads, in part:

“Most large multifamily developments are not financed through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Rather, they are financed through a range of sources including investment banks, private
individuals, private equity firms and public pension systems like PERS. Oregon government
has neither the authority nor financial wherewithal to restructure or back these investments in
the way that the city is proposing. Should such a policy be enacted, housing providers across the state will be forced to take immediate management actions to reduce expenditures to as close to zero as possible. That would mean across the board layoffs in leasing, resident services and maintenance staff, resulting in thousands of job losses.”

Multifamily NW has offered an alternative solution: temporarily expanding the Rental Assistance Vouchers program.