Commissioner-elect Chloe Eudaly
Commissioner-elect Chloe Eudaly

Chloe Eudaly's an old hand when it comes to tenants' rights rallies. Her frequent calls for stricter rental protections—such as an end to no-cause evictions, and a temporary rent freeze—are one reason voters pushed Eudaly to an unlikely win over Commissioner Steve Novick on November 8.

That victory made Commissioner-elect Eudaly's appearance at a press conference by the group Portland Tenants United this morning especially notable. Not only does Eudaly still advocate these protections, but, come January, she'll have a far more powerful say in whether they go forward as one of five Portland City Council members.

Eudaly said this morning that, upon winning, one of her first thoughts was that an impending $114,254 salary means she won't be a cost-burdened renter for the first time in years. She's currently owner of the bookstore Reading Frenzy.

"I'm never going to forget the struggle I’ve gone through to keep my family housed," she said. In thinking about that struggle, Eudaly said, "I have to recognize my landlords, who over the last four years have raised the rent on my substandard house 60 percent. I will be sending them a message that the days of treating tenants as used furniture, the days of treating tenants as human ATMs, and the days of predicating their business model on the unfettered right to exploit us are numbered."

So how will Eudaly look to send that message? Today's rally repeated the arguments PTU often makes: That the city's rent crisis constitutes a "man-made emergency" and so merits rent control under state law, that no-cause evictions need to end, and that city officials can take immediate steps to ease the burden.

Plenty of officials, including Novick, have argued that instituting rent control on those grounds would be a certain loss in court, wasting time and money. Willamette Week noted in September that there are legal memos that support both sides of the debate.

But given Eudaly's longstanding support, we asked if she planned to introduce any ordinance or resolution to Portland City Council to address her concerns, once she takes office in two months.

"I'm currently calling on the current council to call an emergency rent freeze and pass a resolution demanding that the state overturn the ban on rent control and return our regulatory tools," Eudaly responded. "If no action is taken, I will be pursuing those options in January."

Of course, she'll need at least two other votes if those options are going to go anywhere, which is where things will get interesting.

Local advocate and activist Cameron Whitten recorded today's press conference. It's below.