HRAC faculty member Dr. Lisa K. Bates, associate professor of Urban Studies and Planning at PSU, partnered with Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT) in a survey on housing insecurity among Oregon renters during COVID-19. The results show that more than one in three Oregon renters surveyed owe back rent that they are unable to pay. The findings reveal an escalating problem that risks a wave of evictions when the current moratorium expires.

As many as 35% of those surveyed owe back rent. That number increases to 56% for people of color. Even with an extension of the current moratorium, Oregon will likely only delay the evictions unless the move comes with significant rent relief. 

The survey of 460 Oregon tenants highlights the growing impact of the pandemic on renters. The study was funded through a faculty research grant from Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative (HRAC). 

Tenants are struggling to maintain shelter, one of our most basic needs. The scale of the assistance is not even close to meeting needs.

— Dr. Lisa K. Bates

Key Findings

  • 53% of renters cut back on food and medications to pay rent. Half dipped into savings. 
  • At least two-thirds reported paying their rent in full each month since March. But the number has declined from over 90% in March to 67% in July. 
  • 34.8% of tenants now owe back rent and 56% of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) tenants owe back rent.
  • Among those owing back rent, half have made partial payments during the pandemic. 
  • 84% of tenants are experiencing mental or physical stress due to housing insecurity.