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Appeal Tribune Wednesday, April 12, 2017 3B
Oregon House OKs local rent control,
bans no-cause evictions in 1st 6 months
A tenant protection bill that prohibits
no-cause evictions and lifts a statewide
ban on rent control has been passed by
passed the Oregon House.
House Bill 2004 is part of a package of
legislation meant to address the state’s
growing housing crunch.
“Oregon families are struggling
against record rent increases and hous-
ing insecurity right now,” Rep. Mark
Meek, D-Oregon City, said during a heat-
ed debate on the House floor. “Oregon is
in trouble. The rental housing market is
out of balance. Doing nothing is not the
The bill was amended from the origi-
nal to allow landlords to use no-cause
evictions during the first six months of
occupancy to screen out bad tenants.
After six months, a landlord could ter-
minate a month-to-month tenancy only
It would allow landlords to evict ten-
ants for business or personal reasons,
such as needing to make repairs or reno-
vations, selling the unit to someone who
plans to live in it, or when a landlord or
family member planned to move into the
In those cases, landlords would have
to give a 90-day notice and provide one
month’s rent for moving expenses.
MOLLY J. SMITH/STATESMAN JOURNAL
Contractors work on one of the buildings at Westown Manor apartment complex in Stayton.
Opponents of House Bill 2004 fear the measure would make the state’s housing crisis worse by
discouraging investment in rental properties and in new construction.
Small landlords with four or fewer
units would not have to pay relocation
The bill also would remove a state-
wide prohibition on local rent stabiliza-
tion ordinances for residential rental
It would require municipalities to en-
sure a fair rate of return for landlords,
set up a process for landlords to request
an exception to allow for a fair rate of re-
turn and exempt any new residential de-
velopment for at least five years.
House Republicans argued that the
bill would make the housing crisis worse
by discouraging investment in rental
properties and in new construction.
“I think we should let the private mar-
ket solve this shortage,” said Rep. Carl
Wilson, R-Grants Pass. “The sad after-
math here is so many people are raising
their rental rates right now in anticipa-
tion of what this body might do.”
Donna Wilson is property manager at
Salem’s Ned Baker Real Estate and owns
four rental homes herself.
She wants people to know that most
landlords are not “evil, greedy slum-
lords.” Many are older people who own
single-family homes, she said.
Wilson said she is worried because the
bill doesn’t define whether a “landlord”
is a property management company or
the homeowners it represents.
“We have clients who own one, two,
three homes,” she said. “If a landlord is
defined as a property management com-
pany, our clients are not going to get ex-
empt from paying relocation costs.”
Many of her clients are people who
could not sell their homes during the re-
cession, Wilson said.
“Now that the economy has turned,
they are more interested in selling their
homes. This would penalize them for do-
ing that,” she said.
The bill passed 31-27 on April 4 and
headed to the Senate.
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DHS halts ‘differential response’ tack
Kids being left in
The state agency in charge of child
welfare services is pausing the roll-out
of a strategy that aims to keep children
with their troubled families and out of
The “differential response” tack of
the Department of Human Services
came under scrutiny following the re-
lease of an internal state report showing
consultants believed child welfare case-
workers left children in unsafe situa-
tions almost half the time where the
strategy was in place.
The report looked at 101 cases; con-
sultants disagreed with case workers’
calls about whether children were safe
in 47 of the assessments.
DHS uses differential response in at
least 11Oregon counties. But DHS Direc-
tor Clyde Saiki said the agency isn’t go-
ing to start using differential response in
any new counties until it resolves prac-
“If there are any safety issues with
(differential response), we should pause
it all together,” Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Cor-
vallis, said after DHS officials testified
in front of legislators Tuesday morning.
“If the safety concerns are too great to
expand, why would we leave kids in half
the state subject to a practice that has
demonstrated safety issues in the as-
Child Welfare Director Lena Alhus-
seini called for a similar assessment to
be created looking at the entire state, not
just the differential response counties,
though timelines remain unclear on
when it will publish.
The move comes as a redesigned
training effort is on the horizon for Ore-
gon’s child welfare program, offering a
ray of promise when it kicks into gear
this summer. The agency’s child welfare
arm suffers from high turnover rates es-
timated to cost thousands of dollars per
employee who leaves.
New training aims to reduce that
turnover and uses computer-based
learning and classroom work through a
staffer’s first year, according to DHS. It
is set to go into effect at the start of July.
While Saiki said training is critical, he
voiced concerns about how the agency
takes care of its workers.
“I feel very strongly that unless we
can solve the problem of how we support
people once they get on the job on a day-
to-day basis, we’re not going to break
this vicious cycle,” he said.
The turnover rate ranges from 23 per-
cent to 75 percent, depending on the dis-
trict, Alhusseini told lawmakers. Those
rates not only hurt the agency’s perfor-
mance but can affect finances.
“The cost for each worker leaving the
agency is $54,000,” Alhusseini said. “A
third of our workforce always is new.”
The staffers’ exodus likely has to do
with their heavy workloads and other
stresses native to the job. More than half
of child welfare workers last August re-
ported high case loads, according to a
survey by Service Employees Interna-
tional Union Local 503. The union sur-
veyed 63 child welfare workers and rep-
resents about 2,000.
In an effort to bolster the number of
foster parents able to take care of the ap-
proximately 8,000 children in foster
care, child welfare is taking to the air-
waves. Foster-care public service an-
nouncements are set to air on local radio
and television stations from April
“We want to encourage people of all
ages, races, religions and genders to ap-
ply and become foster parents,” Alhus-
seini said in a March memo.
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tips to jbach @statesmanjournal.com or
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