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There is still time to let the City Council know how you feel about the proposed renter reforms before the scheduled April 25 vote.

What is happening? Portlanders can still tell the City Council what they think of the rental reforms proposed by Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, which were first heard last week. Although the council received about six hours of invited and public testimony over two days, the vote is not scheduled until April 25. The vote could be delayed if amendments are offered.

What will the proposed reforms do? New requirements range from the treatment of applicants with criminal histories to identification and income requirements, to restrictions on charging and refunding security deposits.

Few other cities have gone so far. They follow previous reforms requiring landlords to pay moving expenses for some tenants.

Major changes include requiring landlords to accept rental applications from people with criminal records and justify not renting to them in some circumstances. Landlords also would be required to accept nongovernmental identification from applicants. Changes also would set rules for how much can be charged for security deposits and how much can be withheld.

Why are the proposed reforms controversial? Supporters say they are needed to allow more people to have access to housing, especially those with low incomes and people of color who have been historically discriminated against. Backers who testified in favor included renters, tenant advocacy organizations, affordable housing advocates, and two landlords.

"We must do the best we can to address the damages of racisms, other-isms, and socioeconomic inequality today as people are barred from housing access today, in a crisis," said Katrina Holland, the executive director of the Community Alliance of Tenants.

Opponents say the proposed reforms are unnecessary, too restrictive, overly complicated, and will have unintended consequences, including increasing rents to pay for complying with them and discouraging the construction of more rental housing. Opponents who testified included landlords, landlord organizations, and housing developers.

"We support the goal of increasing access to rental housing for all Oregonians. However, complicated policies will result in disinvestment of rental properties rather than finding ways to increase supply. ... If we do not have investment in the city to put more units on the market, regulation of housing providers won't solve those issues," said Deborah Imse, executive director of Multifamily NW, which represents market rate multifamily housing providers.

What can I do? The proposed reforms are lengthy and complex. You can find them and supporting documents here,

To connect with reform supporters, contact the Community Alliance of Tenants at www.oregoncat.org. To connect with opponents, contact Mulyfamily NW at www.www.multifamilynw.org.

You can find contact information for all members of the council at portlandoregon.gov.


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