NEW WINDOWS were the first sign of trouble. The Brentwood-Pinecrest Apartments in North Portland were getting a facelift from the new owners, who were also promising other amenities, such as online bill payment.
"It was after the new windows that the people in the other building all got their eviction notices. It was the beginning of June and they had to be out by the end of July," says Jeri Jimenez, who lived in the apartments for seven years until she was kicked out. "So when they told our building we were getting new windows we all knew what was coming."
The eviction notices came at the beginning of July. Jimenez and her neighbors had to be out by the end of August. The property had become too valuable; it was time for a more moneyed class of tenants to move in.
"The Summer of Evictions" is what Portland's Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT) is calling the past few months.
Executive Director Justin Buri says volunteers at CAT have seen a huge increase in people calling their hotline asking for help in dealing with no-cause evictions and drastic rent hikes—which can lead to involuntary eviction when a tenant can't afford the increase. In addition to declaring a "Renter State of Emergency," the nonprofit, which works to uphold tenant rights, is launching a social media campaign, working to gather stories of people being forced to leave their homes in hopes that community leaders will start acting with the urgency they'd give a wildfire or flood.
"Through no fault of [their] own, huge numbers of renters are facing unsustainable rent increases or are simply being evicted," a news release from CAT reads. "More and more of us are losing our housing security... renters are experiencing mental and physical health impacts, disruption of children's stability and education, loss of access to transportation, training, and jobs, and a lost sense of community and belonging."