Portland Woman Who Died of Hypothermia Was Evicted for Being Late on $338 in Rent

(Catie Cooper)

Karen Batts, 52, who died from hypothermia Saturday in a parking garage, was evicted from a downtown Portland apartment building in October for being overdue on paying $338 in monthly rent.

Portland police confirmed this morning Batts died from hypothermia. She was seen removing her clothes in the parking garage—at 730 Southwest 10th Avenue—shortly after 2 pm on Saturday, in the midst of a Portland snowstorm.

The Oregonian first reported today that Batts had been evicted.

A review of Multnomah County eviction court records by WW shows that Batts had been living in an apartment building at 333 SW Oak Street designed to provide affordable housing for seniors and people with disabilities.

But on October 21, 2016, Cascade Management, Inc. and Northwest Housing Alternatives, LLC, evicted Batts from the building they manage. The court records say only that she was evicted for being at least seven days late with the $338 rent for August.

Related: Three people have died of hypothermia on Portland's streets in the new year.

The landlords sent Batts a 72-hour notice on Sept. 9, saying she owed $338 plus a $5 late fee. She does not appear to have paid that amount between Sept. 9 and Oct. 6, when an eviction complaint was filed with the court.

Batts did not appear at the scheduled Oct. 14 hearing, so the court found in favor of the plaintiffs by default. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Michael C. Zusman signed the order for her to leave the apartment by Oct. 21. (Disclosure: Zusman is a contributor to WW. He is not related to WW Editor Mark Zusman.)

Cascade Management and Northwest Housing Alternatives did not immediately return requests for comment.

Batts was believed to be homeless when she died. The SmartPark garage where she died is eight blocks from the apartment where she had lived.

UPDATE, 4:31 pm: Reed Andrews, a reporter with WW's news partner KATU-TV, spoke with Martha McLennan, the executive director of Northwest Housing Alternatives.

McLennan says Batts had been a tenant since 2007—but says her behavior changed in the spring.

"There were a variety of lease violations that were either damage of property or late payments, also incidents against staff and other tenants," McLennan tells KATU. "It's a terrible tragedy to have a situation where someone ends up alone and without resources."

McLennan tells WW that Northwest Housing Alternatives tried to get help for Batts before evicting her.

"We hate these sorts of situations," McLennan says. "But unfortunately, when someone decline services there's not much you can do. And I can say there were dozens of attempts to help."

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