This bill passed with a 35-25 vote, with three Democrats siding against the bill, alongside Republicans. SB 608 will protect against no-cause evictions and extreme rent spikes, while aiming to improve homelessness and combat the housing crisis—something Central Oregon as well as much of the state, has been struggling with.
After the governor signs the bill, SB 608 will:
-Limit no-cause evictions in Oregon. This protects tenants who have been paying their rent on time and following the rules for at least a year from being evicted from their homes through no fault of their own.
-Limits annual rent increases to be no higher than 7 percent plus inflation.
With these regulations, advocates hope evictions and displacements will be minimized. According to the Oregon Department of Education and National Low Income Housing Coalition, 884 students in Deschutes County, 92 in Crook County and 137 in Jefferson all experienced homelessness last year. They also list that someone working in Deschutes County on minimum wage would need to work around 60 hours a week to be able to afford rent and their other necessities.
"Passage of SB 608 shows that lawmakers recognize that renters in rural and Central Oregon have literally been left out in the cold during the housing crisis," said Michelle Glass, Director of Rogue Action Center, a community focused organization, said in a press release. "Now fewer children across Oregon will be showing up at school after spending the night in a shelter, a car or tent."
SB 608 comes to pass after six years of discussion between legislators, landlords, and other organizations. Not everyone, however, shares the same positive outlook as Glass.
"I am deeply concerned about the unintended consequences that will come with the Rent Control bill that passed out of the House chamber today. Rent Control harmed the very same people it was intended to help in places where this policy exists and raised the cost of living as well, such as San Francisco," said Rep. Jack Zika, (R-Redmond), in his own press release.
"It's no secret that Central Oregon is facing a housing affordability crisis. Study after study shows that rent control will restrict the ability to build more affordable housing in places where the policy has been implemented. Rent control has never been implemented in rural communities," Zika, who's also a realtor, said. "This is an unprecedented piece of legislation rammed through the legislative process without careful vetting or notice to industries affected by this bill. Furthermore, this bill decreases the opportunities of home ownership and is a direct attack on property owners."
SB 608 awaits the signature from Gov. Kate Brown, upon which it will be effective immediately.