Homelessness, Domestic Violence, and Oregon HB 2004

 

Last month, the Oregon House passed House Bill 2004 a bill that would establish for cause eviction requirements and end the statewide preemption on rent control. This is particularly relevant for victims of domestic violence who are at greater risk for eviction and homelessness.

Representatives Piluso and Gorsek, from Gresham and Troutdale, who were two of the cosponsors introducing the legislation addressed stable housing as an issue of public safety. According to a study from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 92% of homeless women have experienced physical or sexual assault. Survivors of DV need secure safe and stable housing. IMS, the parent organization for GPP was, one of the organizations doing the homelessness count in Portland this year. Data from the count will be released soon

Rates of homelessness vary across the Portland MSA. As of 2015, Columbia County now sees the highest rate of homelessness with 63 of every 10,000 experiencing homelessness. This is higher than Multnomah county which peaked in 2011 (68/10,000) but now has a rate of 49 of every 10,000. These numbers are significantly lower than rates of student homelessness which in 2014-15 was as high as 11.5% at Reynolds School District in Oregon, and 5.9% at Steven-Carson in Washington.

Domestic violence is a major cause of homelessness for women. In 2015, an article detailed how nuisance evictions are used to target Domestic Violence survivors. In 2016, Mic described how DV survivors can be evicted for calling the police. That same year, Senator Shaheen of New Hampshire introduced a bill that would have set a nationwide standard against evicting survivors of DV. The bill was referred to a committee, and never moved forward.

With this in mind, House Bill 2004 represents a real opportunity to establish protections for survivors of Domestic Violence in Oregon. With 32% of women experiencing homelessness having been assaulted by their current and most recent partner, there is an undeniable connection between experiencing homelessness and experiencing Domestic Violence. Already facing resource and personal barriers, no-cause evictions present an additional barrier to the survivors who manage to find safe housing. Stable housing is a matter of public safety.