By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,497)
Speaking directly to his real estate cronies this afternoon, Mayor Ethan Strimling offered a loaf of bread to them and crumbs for Portland renters.
The newly elected Mayor ran on a “listening” campaign. – clearly the real estate industry, who largely bankrolled his election campaign, were heard louder and clearer than anyone else, as expected.
John Richardson, of the “Portland Press Herald” was the facilitator for the discussion on the rental housing crises facing Portland these days with a panel representing different interests in the City. Mayor Strimling was joined by representatives of the real estate industry and the Portland Tenants Union. Richardson, who wrote a series of articles on the rental crises stated that rents in Portland have risen 40% in the last five years. While renters’ incomes are going down, rental rates are skyrocketing, which has put Portland in the national spotlight. A fact that councilors seem indifferent to. The vacancy rate for apartments in Portland is zip, Richardson said as a result of his research for his articles. .
Grace Damon, of the Portland Tenants Union, said that the out-of-control rent increases are forcing the working class out of Portland. The expense is forcing people to live in overcrowded and unsafe conditions, if they can find a place to rent.
One of Strimling’s messages was that the city manager Jon Jennings is focused on streamlining the permitting process – one that is famously inefficient and has been for many, many years. When that process is completed, Strimlings assured the crowd in the Rines Auditorium of the Portland Public Library that there will be more housing coming on-line. He acknowledged that creating 2,000 more units of housing will not solve the rental housing crises and he did not offer a solution as to what might ease the situation. When someone commented that in this zero vacancy rate of rental housing, the only 30 days notice to vacate a property for tenants at will, should be revisited. Strimmling said: “We should look at that.” (In other words, Strimling needs to consult with the real estate industry for advice.) Meanwhile horror stories continue while someone “looks at it.”
A member of the audience asked if there were anything that could be done to control Port Property who is buying up many rental units in Portland. No one had a solution on how to deal with the company, even though it is earning a reputation as especially insensitive to renters in Portland.
The anti-renter attitude is alive and well in Portland! The panel on the rental housing crises side-stepped the rental housing crises. It was a good day for the real estate industry and not so much for Portland renters.