With rents rising, a number of people in the Portland area are facing eviction and homelessness as they struggle to find affordable housing.
PORTLAND, OR – A real estate sign swings in the wind in the front lawn of a single-family home in southeast Portland.
Muffled sounds could be heard from the TV outside the front door.
It was late Tuesday morning, Lisa Antic sat on a black leather sofa with her husband and elderly mother.
“We have nowhere to go,” she said, patting her knee nervously.
“My biggest fear is that we’ll end up sleeping in my car, and how am I going to tell my child that?”
Antic and her family have lived in their home for about 10 years. They just found out that the owner sold it to an out-of-state buyer. She described receiving the news as “heartbreaking”.
Her family lives on $1,000 a month between the money she receives for her disability and her mother’s retirement.
“It’s hard. I’m trying to figure out how to do it and everything is a queue.”
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They don’t have time to wait. They were supposed to be gone last month.
“We’re running out of days, we’re in lost time.”
Antich said she couldn’t find an apartment in her budget and had no luck getting a room voucher.
“A lot of them won’t help us until we’re in the car and then a lot of them won’t help us because I’m not a drug addict and I don’t drink alcohol.”
As for living on the streets, she is afraid of what it might be like.
“I am terrified. I am terrified. My uncle was just killed on 136th Street while he was walking down the street.”
Their plan now is to sleep in the car because the hostel room is very expensive.
First of all, this should never happen. “Families and their children should always have affordable alternatives and rents, and no family should be forced to live in a shelter with their children,” said Shannon Callahan, director of the Portland Office of Housing. “No child should live in the car or on the street.”
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Northeast Salem has another side to this crisis. Kathleen Quinn is disabled and has a fixed income of $850 a month.
“I’m stuck. I can’t move and then I don’t have the credit to move.”
She has been living in a one-bedroom apartment for about six years and has had many issues with the living conditions.
“I told them how hard it is to breathe here,” she said, pointing at her mold-covered walls.
“My carpet, my furniture, my lining, everything, everything,” she said, walking to the overflowing septic tank outside her bedroom window.
She wore a bright pink polka dot dress and purple eyeshadow – a look she said makes her feel better when living in these conditions.
“Trying to live in this…it was terrifying,” she said.
Moving boxes fill inside her apartment. She is ready to move, but has nowhere to go.
She pointed to the water heater in the bathroom that was flooded and a new window she had just entered in her bedroom because of mold.
“It is inhumane to expect people to live with such high levels of mold and to ignore it,” she said.
But like Antich, she called people for help, but got nowhere.
“We don’t know where we’re going, we don’t know what we’re going to do, we don’t know where we’ll be,” Antic said.
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The Portland housing director said families in these positions should contact the Joint Office of Homeless Services or the Portland Housing Office, since there are transitional housing options to keep children and families off the streets.
KGW has reached out to Queen’s property manager, Kara Tabkin of Crown Property Management, about her living conditions. Tapken responded with the following statement:
“We take these calls/reports, along with many other maintenance requests, very seriously as we understand the importance of addressing these items as quickly as possible. As a general standard of practice, once the tenant or tenant representative informs us of the type of matters you have mentioned, the Implementation of a number of different responses, including, but not limited to, evaluation by a team member and/or an outside vendor, to ensure matters are addressed according to needs in the unit.”