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Mayor Wheeler Postpones Council Vote On Relocation Aid


Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has delayed a vote on a policy that requires landlords to pay so-called “relocation aid.”

The fees kick in when a landlord evicts a person for no cause or raises rents more than 10 percent. 

Wheeler’s spokesman said the council’s upcoming vote on the relocation ordinance will be pushed back by several weeks. The mayor said last year he expected a permanent relocation aid policy would be in place by the end of 2017. 

The council unanimously approved the relocation payments of up to $4,500 last year as a temporary measure, and then extended the ordinance along with the city’s housing emergency declaration in October. 

The ordinance is the first of its kind in Oregon, and is among the most significant legislation passed by the City Council last year. 

Without further council action, the relocation aid requirement sunsets this spring.

Meanwhile, the council formed an advisory committee made up of landlord groups, renter’s advocates and legal experts, who were tasked with improving the policy. 

Mayor Ted Wheeler said the council is close to having a draft ordinance making the relocation aid permanent.

But the advisory committee was unable to reach agreement on one point.

Landlord representatives wanted to keep an exemption for people who rent out just one unit, arguing that they constitute a different class of investor that often can’t afford to pay the relocation fees. 

The renter’s groups counter that one-in-five renters in the city lives in a unit that falls under the exemption, and they can’t afford their rent increases. 

In a letter addressed to the committee, Mayor Wheeler said he supports the exemption.

“I recognize this decision will be disappointing to many members of this committee,” he wrote, “but I want to be clear: I am not philosophically opposed to ending the one-unit exemption, and I am committed to revising this issue once we have complied quality data.” 

Wheeler noted that he supports the idea of a rental registration system to collect data on rental properties. He said such a system would show “what specific steps are appropriate for our housing market.”

A number of renter’s advocacy groups held a press conference Friday, joined by Portland City Council candidate Jo Ann Hardesty. 

They used the event to release a draft report that contains from data a local consultant and housing advocate, extracted from the county tax assessor’s records. The data reportedly show the extent of single-family homes in Portland that are being used as rental properties.

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