PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A coalition advocating for renters in Oregon is pleading with legislators to hold a special session as the end to the state’s eviction moratorium looms closer.
In September, Gov. Kate Brown extended the ban on residential evictions through the end of 2020. Renters cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent and landlords can’t terminate a lease without cause under the governor’s executive order, which lasts through Dec. 31.
But economic strain caused by the pandemic has been hard on families and wildfires in September only exacerbated the problem for many.
Recent studies show somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 households in Oregon could face homelessness just days after Christmas, according to Sybil Hebb with the Oregon Law Center.
Jessica Guernsey, the public health director for Multnomah County, said this would be an especially dangerous time for people to be evicted as it would force many to move in with friends or relatives, which in turn could increase the spread of the virus.
“Extending the eviction moratorium will save lives,” she said. “Loss of housing will increase COVID-19 illness and death and slow the reopening of Oregon’s economy.”
The group Stable Homes for Oregon Families is asking lawmakers and the governor to hold a special session this month to extend the moratorium past its current cutoff. Hebb said the proposal seeks to extend the temporary ban until July 31.
Like so many others, Mike Grigsby-Lane said he’s fallen on hard times this year. He’s asking legislators to act and hold the special session so he can have a little room to breathe amid the crisis.
“I’m now a couple months behind and I’m not sure what I’m going to do here,” he said. “This is terrifying. If I get an eviction on my record, I’ll be out of luck.”
KOIN 6 News reached out to Rep. Tina Kotek for comment.
“People need to stay housed in a global pandemic,” Kotek wrote. “Oregon renters have been able to hang on to their homes even in the face of record unemployment and a global pandemic thanks to our state’s temporary eviction moratorium. The moratorium has been working, and we need to figure out how to extend it.”
Gov. Brown said Friday she’s talking with legislative leaders about the possibility of a special session but no final decision has been made.