Portland renters, especially communities of color, are being displaced from our city in multitudes. In response some people have been gathering in Assemblies. The Portland Renter’s Assemblies are places where people share their experiences as tenants in this city and the narrative created in the process has been a common one. People share stories from a place of vulnerability, with lots of emotion hanging in the air. Echoing through many of these stories is a similar thread of running out of options in a system whose laws are written by developers and landlords. As one blogger put it, “where property management companies that treated them like small numbers on a large spreadsheet stripped their safety and dignity.”
Portland developers scramble to build condos and apartments in every nook and cranny of the city. Paired with the reality of No Cause evictions in Oregon, this means our residents are being evicted with huge developments going in their place. Profit over powering people and in the process people are being pushed out of places they call home.
More houses are being built and portlanders are paying the costs through their rising rents. At the last Assembly in July in Colonel Summners park, one resident spoke of spending 90% of their income on rent and utilities. Rents in Portland are reported to have grown 7%, at twice the national rate, with a median units costing $1,587 a month. And we are reminded 7% is an average after hearing one portlander share her story of a 20% increase, while another spoke of their rent doubling in four years while their salary remained stagnant.
Another common thread running through the Assemblies is the desire for action. We in Portland are sick of profits coming before people, and are ready to stand up and demand, “You can’t take my home!” The Portland Renter’s Assemblies have shown that the housing situation in this city can not continue in the direction it is headed.
The rising cost of housing in Portland ensures that many of our citizens live without certainty regarding how long they might live in their home. The toll of involuntary displacement is a burden no one should have to bear. And Portland’s culture matters and part of that culture is us, the citizens. No one who treasures Portland’s beauty should be driven out of our town.
Which is why we are calling all Renters, Houseless people, and Homeowners, who are often renting from the banks, to join us in marching to support Housing For All. We will be meeting at City Hall Friday August 28th at 6pm. Bring your bodies, bring your banners because together we can create housing for the people.
The 4th Portland Renters Assembly will be on August 26th at the Midland Library at 5:30