Squatters protest the demolition of a home in Southeast Portland.

Squatters protest the demolition of a home in Southeast Portland.

Amelia Templeton/OPB

The Portland City Council voted to start foreclosing on five abandoned homes Wednesday. It’s the first time the city has foreclosed on homes for code violations in 50 years.

Homes To Be Foreclosed

Portland leaders took action Wednesday to begin foreclosing on five abandoned homes. It’s the first such move by the city in 50 years. The affected homes are:

  • 7101 NE Prescott St.  — Owner: David Tifft LLC; Total Liens: $99,179.03
  • 4112-4118 SE 91st Ave. — Owners: Trong Nguyen, Trang Nguyen, Van Tran; Total Liens: $105,582.56
  • 15803 Powell Blvd. — Owner: U.S. National Bank Association; Total Liens: $96,240.99
  • 9120 N Tioga — Owner: Norman Tung Yee; Total Liens: $11,228.40
  • 8515-8517 N Portsmouth Ave. — Owner: Norman Tung Yee; Total Liens: $66,059.57

The five properties up for foreclosure are a tiny fraction of the boarded up homes around the city.

“We have probably 400 properties that float in and out of ownership and disrepair,” testified Dave Hendry, the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct commander. “The ones we’re talking about here are the worst of the worst.”

The City Council also approved a change in city code that will allow foreclosed properties to be sold for their market value, rather than just the value of the liens against them.

“Really we want to send a message to all those property owners that, hey we’re serious about this,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. “The best outcome is that all the other houses drop off the bottom of the list before we can get to them because folks have realized that the game is up.”

Of the many abandoned homes in Portland, the city auditor selected five to be the first test cases for foreclosure due to health violations, police calls and absent owners. All of them are considered uninhabitable. One had a swimming pool filled with garbage and debris.

Several of the properties’ neighbors came to thank the council and testify in support of the move.

“It gets to be tough sometimes and a little overwhelming when we work very hard and then come home and have to deal with people breaking into other homes, trash, needles and other garbage laying around,” said Steve Voiles, a homeowner in Lents who lives near two abandoned homes that have been occupied by squatters.

The five homes Portland is taking action against owe the city close to $400,000 in liens and fees.

Two of the properties belong to a man named Norman Yee, who owes the city more than half a million dollars in liens for health and safety violations at a dozen properties he owns around Portland.

Homeowners have a one-year grace period after the foreclosure process starts. If they pay their fines in full, they can retain ownership of their home.