For activists and politicians pushing for changes in Portland's housing policy,
But late last week, the situation for residents there changed.
Coya Crespin woke up Friday morning to a note on her door. It was a rescinding of the no-cause termination notice she’d received earlier in the month.
"I told my daughter that we could stay, and she just started crying," Crespin said.
Crespin is a single mom with a five-month-old and a daughter in elementary school. She’d been a tenant at the Titan Manor for five years when she got her no-cause eviction notice.
At first, Crespin said, the rescission seemed almost too good to be true. "Our first thought was, 'Let’s call the lawyers and make sure it’s legit.' And after that — it feels like that weight is lifted off your chest. Just for a minute. We won a small battle."
Crespin hopes it's a sign the landlords might be open to a mediation of terms.
"Maybe they're willing to sign people to six-month leases," Crespin said. "I feel like the table's open for a better communication now, so I'm very excited about it."
Still, there are no guarantees. The rescission included a line noting that: "This Notice shall not constitute a waiver of the landlord's right to issue a new Notice of Termination." At the time this story was published, OPB was unable to get further clarification from the landlord or agent on what that might mean.
Pam Phan is the policy and organizing manager with the Oregon Community Alliance of Tenants, a nonprofit. She's been working with Crespin and her neighbors to keep Titan Manor residents in their homes.
"This is kind of the bittersweet win that we get," Phan told OPB. "When tenants come together and say this is what we want and push back and work within the legal framework — we win and get things that protect tenants. The flip side to that is that this is only temporary. We know that the win is in a system of tenant protections that doesn’t actually support tenants as best as it could."
The rescission of the no-cause notices at the Titan Manor comes at a time of great upheaval in the world of housing policy both locally and statewide. In Portland, landlords are challenging a new ordinance that would require them to pay relocation fees to tenants evicted without cause, and those forced to move by rent increases of 10 percent or more. In Salem, state lawmakers are charging into battle over bills that would prohibit no-cause evictions, require relocation costs for some just cause evictions and overturn a statewide ban on rent control that's been in place for more than 30 years.
On Thursday, Crespin, Phan and others will go to the state legislature to testify at a public hearing on a bill that would end no-cause evictions for month-to-month tenants and repeal the state's ban on rent control, among other provisions.
"This is just going to keep happening unless we stand up and tell our legislators we need protection," Crespin said. "We can't continue having people put out on the street over arbitrary no-cause evictions. We need to have a working relationship with our landlords. We need to have more landlords with scruples."
"You can never regulate morals and ethics. But maybe people need a little nudge in the right way. And that's what we're looking to the state to help us with."