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Eviction Prevention: Putting Renter’s Rights at the Forefront

Eviction court has been a lopsided affair for too long. Alongside our partners, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette is working to keep families in their homes.

Presented by United Way October 6, 2022

Eviction court is a nightmare for anyone having to deal with it. The right to housing is a human right and navigating the complexities of eviction court leaves many underserved communities with no hope and no home. By providing adequate and just legal representation to those in need, more families stay housed. The Eviction Legal Defense Program is helping to ensure this basic human right by providing tenants with free legal defense in eviction court

Earlier this year, Oregon Law Center, Portland Housing Bureau, Portland Community College’s Clear Clinic and Metropolitan Public Defender launched the Eviction Legal Defense Program to provide free legal defense services to tenants facing eviction. United Way of the Columbia-Willamette serves as the fiscal agent and pays the costs to cure evictions which may also include rent arrears for participants in the program. To date, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette has paid out more than $1.1 million to settle back rent on behalf of low-income Portlanders.

“Historically, Portland tenants facing eviction have had little to no chance of having legal representation. In 2019, of the 5,904 eviction cases filed in Multnomah County, only 3% of tenants had lawyers,” said Christina Dirks of the Portland Housing Bureau. “And the majority of the BIPOC community are renters and disproportionately suffer the long-lasting negative impacts of evictions including homelessness, decreased health outcomes, job loss, poor educational performance for children and barriers finding replacement rental housing.”

“Housing in our region is beyond a crisis, and we need to bring creative strategies to the table to help deter the flow of households falling into homelessness,” said Linda King, Director Housing for United Way of the Columbia-Willamette. “This partnership is exemplary of how we should partner with community organizations who understand best how to support those experiencing evictions.”

Eviction prevention is an important part of addressing the housing crisis in our area – keeping people and families housed is critical.

“A large percentage of our clients are formerly homeless, and the Eviction Legal Defense Program helps to put a plug in the cycle of returning to homelessness. If we can intervene and stop an eviction, we can help these people get into a less fragile space. Homelessness is one of the most important issues of the day, and it’s inextricably linked to this work.”

If you or someone you know is a low-income tenant who has received a termination notice for their housing, is losing their housing subsidy or has a pending eviction case, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Time is a huge factor in eviction cases, so the sooner they can contact the Eviction Legal Defense program, the better.

Call 888-585-9638 or email [email protected] for assistance today.

To help support the work of United Way of the Columbia-Willamette and its work in housing stability and eviction prevention, please consider making a donation today.

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