Oregon legislature may consider statewide rent control bill

ROGUE VALLEY, Ore.– With a super-majority in the state legislature, it appears Democrats in the state Senate may look at a statewide rent control which would have big implications for landlords and their tenants.

The debate over rent control is a divisive one that covers a gambit of problems and possible solutions. The Rogue Valley is no exception.

Still, everyone seems to agree there needs to be something done to help solve the rent crisis.

The Oregon state Senate is expected to introduce a rent control bill this next session, hoping to find solutions to exorbitant rent prices.

“The rental crisis has really moved from a state of crisis to an emergency,” said Jesse Sharp, a statewide organizer for a tenant organization.

For members, like Sharpe, of the Community Alliance of Tenants – an organization that supports renters across Oregon – this couldn’t come sooner.

“We know that people are already getting 5 to 10 percent rent increases per year and that’s too much for people to bear,” he said. “Most people cannot sustain that and certainly wages aren’t going up at 10 percent.”

Last year, the House passed a similar rent control bill that ultimately died in the Senate. While details of the potential bill haven’t been established yet, some representatives are hesitant about statewide rent control.

“If what we start to consider is a mandate that applies to communities across the State of Oregon, I think are problematic,” said Ashland State Representative Pam Marsh.

Marsh says she believes it should be left up to individual cities and much like the minimum wage debate, different areas garner different responses.

But others see no need for a rent control bill at all.

“It intends to make rents more affordable and it’s an easy thing to grab a hold of but it doesn’t ever work the way it’s intended,” said Medford State Representative Kim Wallan.

Wallan says rent control bills aren’t the solution. Rather, there needs to be more housing to provide a more diverse market for renters to choose from.

Still, supporters of renters say action needs to be taken soon to avoid a full-blown emergency.

“It’s only going to keep getting worse but we know we can actually take steps to mitigate it if we want to and we can actually take steps to solve this crisis if we really decide to do that,” said Sharpe.

The Oregon legislature will reconvene for its 2019 session on January 22 where this rent control bill may make its first appearance.

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