HRAC estimates that Oregon might be forced to spend between $1 billion and $3.3 billion to respond to mass evictions in the short term if additional eviction supports are not adopted during the pandemic.
We recommend actions including fully funding rent supports to meet the scale of the need and extending renter protections, including relief from no-cause evictions, access to mediation instead of eviction, and reasonable repayment periods for arrears to avoid mass evictions in Oregon.
To evaluate the downstream community costs of evictions in Oregon during the pandemic, our team used a calculator developed by the University of Arizona and estimates of how many renter households are at risk of eviction. The center worked with community partners to gather data from emergency shelters, inpatient and emergency medical services, child welfare, and juvenile justice services. Wherever data were not readily available or did not appear to be tracked in Oregon, the center used national averages.
Portland State University’s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative (HRAC) estimates that evictions could cost Oregon as much as $3.3 billion when the statewide eviction ban expires in July.
The center worked with community partners to gather data from emergency shelters, inpatient and emergency medical services, child welfare, and juvenile justice services to estimate the downstream costs of evictions using the Cost of Eviction Calculator developed by the University of Arizona College of Law.
The center’s cost calculation is an estimate of the scale of the crisis that Oregon could face without additional eviction interventions. It does not cover loss of income, increase in public assistance, gaps in education, or the long-term impact to health, education, and earnings. Neither does it capture the costs of building new shelters and creating new emergency support as a result of exceeding the current system capacity. The estimate also does not include costs associated with likely increased COVID transmission due to evictions.
The current rental support programs are not enough to meet the scale of the need, said Associate Professor and Researcher Lisa K. Bates. Oregon renters owe as much as $378 million in back rent, according to a study by Stout advisory firm. Those costs will continue to rise, but will likely be a fraction of the cost of evictions.
“The programs being implemented will support a substantial number of renters; they will also leave an unconscionable number of people, families, and communities behind,” Bates said.
Approximately 89,000 Oregon households owe back rent, according to the center’s analysis of Census data. A disproportionate number of these households are households of color. The center’s survey this fall showed that 35% of renters were behind on rent, a figure that jumps to 56% for people of color. The report includes recommended actions such as fully funded rent support and renter protections to avoid mass evictions.
“Unprecedented times isn’t just the first line of every email,” Bates said, “it’s a real experience for those living with fear, hunger, and harm in almost unfathomable numbers with no real hope of a safety net to catch them.”