Officials with the Multnomah County affordable housing authority Home Forward joined Mayor Ted Wheeler just two days ago as he announced an effort to provide financial stability for low-income tenants who couldn't make rent.

But on Sept. 11, Home Forward was due in court to evict a tenant who lives at The Yards, an apartment complex in Northwest Portland.

Robert Reed Jr., 59, fell behind on his rent last year and came to an agreement to stay so long as he paid rent on time.

In March, Reed failed to pay the rent, plus back rent and legal fees, on time. But Home Forward (and its property manager IPM) waited until Aug. 20 to pursue an eviction.

"I felt targeted," Reed says. "People know me here. I was being made an example of—you better pay or you're going to be gone."

His expulsion fell amid a state eviction moratorium that started in March and applies to anyone that didn't make rent during that period because of the pandemic. Reed's case remains unprotected by that ban, according to the official rules, but his eviction was still unexpected because it involved an affordable housing agency.

Contacted by WW in the late afternoon of Sept. 10, Home Forward reversed the decision to proceed with the eviction.

"IPM has instructions from Home Forward to stop the eviction," says Home Forward spokeswoman Monica Foucher.

Reed, a veteran, is not alone in failing to make rent this year.

According to data released by the Portland mayor's office, unpaid rent is between $22 million and $28 million. Some 20% of Portlanders who live in less expensive properties, class C buildings, have not paid all the rent that landlords are owed.

“During a time of unprecedented triple crises—housing, the pandemic, and wildfires—it is unthinkable that anyone would lose their home, much less a resident of our city’s public housing,” says Lauren Everett, spokesperson for Portland Tenants United, a local renters’ rights group. “PTU is forming an Eviction Defense Response Team to provide support to community members who experience eviction despite moratoriums on the federal, state and county levels.”