As of February 2021, a reported estimate of 89,000 households are behind in rent equaling more than $378 million. Since the start of the pandemic in 2020 a mass wave of tenants have become behind on their monthly rent, and the numbers continue to soar. The eviction ban across the state allows tenants to remain in their homes even if they cannot pay rent due to pandemic-related unemployment. However, the amount due doesn't go away, but rather builds the longer tenants remain behind on rent. The fear is that when the eviction ban is lifted, tenants will be unable to pay the back-rent and as a result will be evicted. With the current shortage on affordable housing in Oregon, anticipated evictions may cost the state billions according to Portland State University’s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative. Expenses include, but are not limited to, the state systems that work with and provide services for families impacted by losing their homes: shelter, child welfare, juvenile justice, emergency room visits and inpatient care.
(Lisa K. Bates, Associate Professor at Portland State University in the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, Portland Professor in Innovative Housing Policy)