Portland City Council members have called for forgiveness of residential rent and mortgage payments, saying a moratorium on evictions is not enough.
“Without a moratorium and forgiveness of residential rent and mortgage payments, we are putting tens of thousands of Portlanders who currently have housing at risk of becoming destitute or homeless as a result of this public health crisis,” the council said in a letter signed by Mayor Ted Wheeler and commissioners Chloe Eudaly, Amanda Fritz and Jo Ann Hardesty.
“While local and statewide moratoriums on residential and commercial evictions were a vital step to stabilize renters, we need further action at the state and federal levels to stem the tide of evictions, foreclosures, and bankruptcies that will occur without further intervention.
“Individuals and businesses whose income or expenses have been substantially impacted by COVID-19 need forgiveness of all residential and commercial rent and mortgage payments for the duration of this emergency,” the letter said.
Half of Portland residents are renters
About half of Portland residents are renters, and “those who defer rent payments may accumulate significant personal debt and those who are unable to repay may ultimately face eviction,” the council said in the letter.
And for homeowners, despite the forbearance for federally backed loans, they “will continue to accrue normally scheduled fees, penalties, and interest, which they will still owe with the deferred payments after the forbearance period is over. Additionally, we have become aware that many lenders are not offering reasonable repayment plans,” the letter said.
The council letter said Portland businesses face rent and mortgage payments without the operating revenue to pay their expenses and risk financial collapse.
“We thank the governor for her recent executive order announcing a 90-day moratorium on commercial evictions and urge forgiveness of commercial rent and mortgage payments.
“Portland City Council stands in solidarity with renters, homeowners, and business owners struggling to stay in place during this time of crisis.
“We hear the concerns raised by so many of our constituents and call on our fellow elected officials at the state and federal levels to take action: Forgive all rent and mortgage payments for renters and businesses whose income or expenses have been substantially impacted by COVID-19,” the council said in the letter.