By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,573)
Tenants at 61-69 Grant Street have received a reprieve from eviction by the buildings’ landlord it was announced yesterday afternoon at a city hall press conference as well as at the monthly meeting of the Housing Committee later in the day. The landlord told the city that he is open to permitting the fourteen remaining tenants to stay until they have found rental units to relocate to. City agencies are working with the tenants to assist in their hunt for apartments. The building, located in the Parkside neighborhood, owner has not registered with the city’s newly created Housing Safety Office as required by city ordinance according to Art Howe, the Office’s administrator.
In December the building owner notified the tenants that as of March 1, 2016, they would need to vacate the building in order for renovations to take place. All but 14 tenants had relocated as of recently. That’s when the city stepped in to assist them rather than face a court hearing to vacate on March 10th. The building owner said he didn’t believe he was doing anything wrong. He wasn’t. He was in compliance with the city’s lack of protections for tenants.
This move is unprecedented in the city. Other massive evictions have happened with no intervention from city officials.
For example, early last year Hill resident and developer Crandall Toothaker purchased 5 rental buildings on Wilmot Street. They were seriously deteriorated with two of the buildings condemned just before he purchased them. One estimate is that 80 tenants were forced from their apartments – all low-income tenants and all struggled to find a place or a couch to which to relocate – those who didn’t find a place were left homeless. Toothaker refused to discuss any conditions and details of the evictions with mhn.com. (Please visit post herein dated April 30, 2016, # 2,256.)
During public comment, Toothaker listed a number of violations he found n those buildings that the city inspectors allegedly disregarded. He went on to say that the buildings passed inspection, although two were condemned prior to his purchase as stated previously. “The city has taken in lots of revenue by the conversion of rental buildings to condos,” he said. Where is that money going? It should go to the inspections people he said.
By the way, the March 9th meeting of the Housing Committee has been canceled because of another scheduled meeting for the region on March 23rd. Details are not yet available. Does it really matter whether they meet on March 9th? Or any date thereafter? There is no real relief for tenants in sight and the longer this process drags on, the fewer renters in Portland there will be to consider.