New PSU Report Calculates Cost of Oregon Evictions

Mass evictions could cost as much as $4.7 billion after moratorium expires this week

photo of apartment

A new report by Portland State University’s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative estimates that as many as 125,400 Oregon households are at risk of eviction when the state moratorium expires, which could cost the government as much as $4.7 billion.

The center used 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 estimate is similar to the one calculated in February. In the previous study, however, the center calculated the downstream costs if rent arrears, or past due rent, would become due immediately. This time, given the expiration of the eviction moratorium for renters, the center analyzed system costs for renters who had little to no confidence in paying next month’s rent. This estimate, therefore, cannot be compared with the previous one.

It is unknown how many of these households will qualify for, receive, or apply for rent assistance in time to avoid eviction or gain protection under the state’s limited 60-day pause or the CDC’s recent extension through July. It is clear, however, that whether the ban lifts in July or August, it will likely leave tens of thousands of Oregonians without homes.

“If we want to be truly responsible, we should allow everyone to stay in their homes while we figure out how many still need rent assistance and whether they can access that assistance. We shouldn’t wait until they show up in court with an eviction to count the number in need,” said PSU Associate Professor and HRAC Director Marisa Zapata.

The calculation once again shows the scale of the crisis 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-19 transmission due to evictions.

As many as 125,400 Oregon households have little to no confidence in their ability to pay next month’s rent, according to the center’s analysis of Census data.  A disproportionate number of these households are likely households of color. The center’s survey last 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 including full extension of the rent moratorium, fully funded rent support and renter protections to avoid mass evictions.

“Eviction plays a key role in causing and perpetuating homelessness. Homeless services are already at max capacity. We must do everything we can to prevent more people being forced into homelessness,” Zapata said.

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