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Rent Stabilization Measure Moves Quickly through Ore. Legislature

Oregon could become the first state to stabilize housing prices through an annual cap on rent increases. (axel.bueckert/Twenty20)
Oregon could become the first state to stabilize housing prices through an annual cap on rent increases. (axel.bueckert/Twenty20)
February 8, 2019

SALEM, Ore. - A statewide measure to address the housing crisis is soaring through the Oregon Legislature.

The first-of-its-kind proposal would cap rent increases at no more than 7 percent plus the inflation rate per year, and ban no-cause evictions for tenants who have lived in a building for a year. The Senate Committee on Housing approved Senate Bill 608 this week, and it could get a full Senate vote next week.

Anneliese Koehler, public policy advocate for Oregon Food Bank, said the bill is moving quickly because lawmakers see the pressing need to address housing affordability. She said housing and hunger are intertwined issues.

"So many of the people that we serve, people experiencing hunger, have to make that tough choice between rent and food," she said. " 'Do I make my rent payment this month or do I put food on the table to feed my family?' And so, this measure will hopefully go a long way to making it so people don't have to make that tough choice."

About one-quarter of renters spent more than half their income on rent in 2016, according to an Oregon Center for Public Policy study. At a hearing this week, two influential landlord groups - the Oregon Rental Housing Association and Rental Housing Alliance - said they were neutral on the bill.

Opponents of the measure have said it wasn't written with rural communities in mind and will decrease the number of affordable units in the state. Koehler said folks at Oregon Food Bank's partner organizations in every part of the state have expressed concern about housing prices, and many renters spoke to this at the hearing this week.

"There were tenants that were there from across the state. There were a number from the Rogue Valley area, who talked a lot about their experiences with huge rent increases and evictions," she said. "So, I would say that that has not been what we are seeing."

Under the bill, landlords who violate the law would be liable for three months' rent as well as the cost for damages. Properties less than 15 years old would be exempt from the rent-increase cap.

The text of SB 608 is online at, and OCPP data is at

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR