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How Long Is the Ban on Evictions Supposed to Last, Anyway?

Kim McCarty says Oregon’s social safety net is unprepared to handle even a fraction of the 80,000 people who owe back rent.

On Thursday, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners once again extended the pandemic-era moratorium on residential evictions another 30 days for tenants who provided proof that they’d applied for rental assistance from the state. That’s on top of the state’s 60 day extension for those who show proof.

The 90-day extension kicks in whenever renters show proof that they’ve applied for rental assistance, depending on when they first need it—so that 90 days could begin this month, or next month, or the month after that.

Commissioners said renters needed that additional time to ensure their landlords receive relief checks from the state.

Those landlords, for whom this summer is starting to feel like Groundhog Day, may wonder: Is this moratorium going to roll on for years?

Kim McCarty thinks that wouldn’t be a bad idea.

McCarty, executive director of the Community Alliance of Tenants, says Oregon’s social safety net is unprepared to handle even a fraction of the 80,000 people who owe back rent. She says if landlords quickly regain the ability to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent, the result will be a statewide “meltdown.”

She says nonprofits in Multnomah County are already overburdened assisting just 4,000 homeless people—so the idea of multiplying that by 20 across the state is unfathomable to her.

In this interview, conducted on the eve of statewide protections expiring, McCarty described what she thought would happen if the poorest Oregonians were suddenly compelled to pay their rent debt. And we asked her: How long does she think a ban on evictions can reasonably last?

Correction: This story has been changed to more accurately reflect the timeline of the extension, and to whom it applies.