Advocates Collect Necessary Signatures to Put Capital Gains Tax on Spring Ballot to Fund Eviction Defense

The signatures must first be certified by county elections officials.

A group that aims to implement a capital gains tax in Multnomah County to fund eviction defense services turned in the number of signatures needed to put it on the May 2023 ballot.

The Oregonian first reported the news.

The campaign collecting the signatures, Eviction Representation for All, was dealt a blow to its earlier efforts to place an initiative on the November ballot from a legal challenge filed by the Portland Business Alliance this past spring, as first reported by WW in March. A judge ordered that tweaks be made to the language of the ballot title.

As WW reported this fall, the campaign decided instead to set its sights on the May 2023 ballot.

The initiative proposes to levy a tax of 0.75% on capital gains, which are profits incurred by the sale of stocks, bonds and real estate holdings. It would fund legal representation for residents facing evictions across the county.

Backers of the eviction lawyers initiative, including the Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, hope to replicate programs they say have reduced evictions in New York, San Francisco and other cities.

Early on, the initiative met intense pushback, and not just from corporate boardrooms. Even Multnomah County leaders, including three county commissioners, expressed trepidation about the tax. Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, now county chair-elect, described it as “using a sledgehammer to pound a nail.”

The campaign collected over 33,500 signatures. It needed only 22,686.