The Gresham City Council took action during an emergency meeting Thursday morning, March 19, to protect residential renters and commercial tenants during the city's declared State of Emergency caused by the spread of COVID-19.
The decision bars residential landlords from evicting renter during the State of Emergency for any reason connecting to the emergency or for "no-cause" evictions. Landlords violating the order risk losing their rental license, which allows them to conduct business in Gresham.
"This is a substantial measure, but we must protect the stability of our families, and their housing, as a first order of business," said Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis. "Many of our residents are facing drastic economic challenges at the same time that we're asking them to take unprecedented actions."
Bemis added that stabilizing housing in the short-term is the first critical measure in controlling the spread of the virus.
"We are all in this together, and we cannot have families displaced during an unprecedented global health pandemic," Bemis said.
On the commercial front, the city has barred property owners from terminating commercial leases for any purpose connected to the State of Emergency. Those who violate the moratorium will be denied a license to conduct business at their location for one year.
"Small businesses, collectively, are America's largest employer," Bemis said. "We have spent decades building vibrant, thriving business districts in Gresham with local entrepreneurs who operate on paper-thin margins, but who contribute strongly to our local economy and our sense of community. We will get through this, and emerge on the other side, but we have to take measures now to ensure our local employers get there with us."
The city is continuing to explore other options and remedies to support the housing stability of residents and viability of local businesses. Gresham leadership is also advocating for state and federal actions.
"We will continue to push the state and federal governments to take swift actions to ensure the public's health and safety, provide enhanced renter protections, mortgage relief, and small business assistance," Bemis said.
Gresham's Emergency Operations Center remains activated, while City Hall is closed to the public. Leadership continues to conduct core city business to ensure essential services remain operational. Regular updates to the community are available on www.GreshamOregon.gov/COVID19 as well as the city's social media channels.
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