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Wheeler also releases disturbing information about how many Portlanders cannot pay their rent.

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - Mayor Ted Wheeler at the Tuesday press conference.Mayor Ted Wheeler introduced new relief measures to stabilize vulnerable households during a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

"The impact of … COVID-19 has exacerbated the issue of housing affordability," Wheeler said before releasing troubling data from the Portland Housing Bureau.

The data showed 12% to 15% of Portland renters were unable to make rent in May. The highest rates of nonpayment were in outer Portland. There was about 15% nonpayment in June and 14% nonpayment in July.

"This is not a simple problem; the housing market is complicated," he said.

Wheeler said that despite some financial help the city is able to provide, more is needed.

"We need our federal and our state partners to step in and work with us," he said.

During the press conference, Wheeler proposed emergency code changes to the city's mandatory relocation ordinance, so that any rent increases would require landlords to pay relocation assistance to cover their tenant's moving cost. This lowers the threshold to trigger relocation assistance in the existing code, which currently allows rent increases under 10%.

"While we are in the midst of a pandemic, we need to protect renters at risk of losing their housing and support renters who may need to relocate due to rent increases," said Wheeler.

In addition, Wheeler said he has directed the Portland Housing Bureau to allocate approximately $500,000 of existing funding towards housing stabilization and relief in East Portland.

And Wheeler also announced a potential Executive Order to extend the local eviction moratorium to the end of the year, absent an extension of the State's eviction moratorium. Mayor Wheeler also underscored the important roles of State and Federal government, and financial institutions in finding solutions to the systemic impacts caused by housing instability and unpaid rent.

"Even prior to the pandemic, too many Portlanders were just one medical crisis, or family emergency, or job loss away from homelessness. We need to protect renters and we also need to make sure that local property owners who rent their homes to Portlanders are not foreclosed on because these circumstances make it impossible for them to pay back their loans," said Wheeler. "These are temporary measures, but ensuring Portlanders stay in their homes may be the most important and effective action we can take right now."

In addition, $15.2 million recently was allocated to develop 165 homes using funding from the Oregon Housing and Community Services' Local Innovation and Fast Track Housing Program.

Other money from the program was awarded to projects in Corvallis, Lebanon and Florence.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story can be found here.


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