$3 million provided by Portland Housing Bureau to provide free legal defense for low-income tenants facing eviction


Portland, Ore. - Portland Housing Bureau’s Rental Services Office, Oregon Law Center, and Portland Community College’s CLEAR Clinic have 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.


“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.”


This program will provide tenants – at no higher than 60% of the area median income who have received a notice terminating their tenancy or housing subsidy, or a summons for an eviction action – with free legal representation from the Oregon Law Center or Portland Community College. Limited additional legal assistance is available to tenants at 60-80% of area median income. An attorney will advise eligible tenants of their rights and represent them through negotiation and/or in eviction court.


“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 like Oregon Law Center and PCC’s CLEAR Clinic who understand best how to support those experiencing evictions. We are honored that Portland Housing Bureau selected United Way of the Columbia-Willamette to administer these resources. We are in a unique position of being able respond quickly to cure the financial burden of the eviction that low-income tenants struggle to manage without this support.”

Low-income tenants facing eviction in Portland can call 888-585-9368 or email evictiondefense@oregonlawcenter.org for free legal help from the Eviction Legal Defense Program. Tenants should call as soon as they receive a Notice of Termination to help prevent an eviction from being filed against them. For more information, visit https://www.portland.gov/phb/rental-services/eviction-help-renters/eviction-legal-support-tenants




About United Way of the Columbia-Willamette

For more than one hundred years, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette has been working to meet the needs of vulnerable families. No matter the crisis, we have always remained steadfast to our commitment to LIVE UNITED. Together, we are helping our community recover and become more resilient, while building a more inclusive and equitable region where all families have the resources and opportunities to thrive. For more information and to get involved, please visit www.unitedway-pdx.org.