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Bailey calls for rent control in Portland mayor's race

Portland mayoral candidate Jules Bailey says the Oregon Legislature should repeal the state ban on local rent control. Bailey, a Multnomah County commissoner, says he will push the Legislature to overturn the ban if elected mayor, and will also make it harder for landlords to evict tenants and increase rents.

"As Portland’s next mayor, making housing affordable and returning control back to Portlanders is my top priority,” Bailey said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon.

Bailey also said much of Portland's affordable housing crisis is caused by Wall Street firms buying rental properties and increasing the rents on them. He promised to end any city investments in housing speculation.

“Portlanders’ own tax dollars should not be used to undermine their ability to buy or rent an affordable place to live,” Bailey said.

Some reports say Portland housing costs are increasing faster than anywhere else in the country, with rents rising at a faster rate than home prices.

Bailey's statement was issued hours after dozens of activists disrupted a Multnomah County Board of Commissioners meeting by demanding the commissioners declare a housing disaster and impose rent controls and a moratorium on no-cause evictions. The legality of such a move is unclear.

Housing affordability is probably the biggest issue in the mayor's race. The other major candidate, state Treasurer Ted Wheeler, proposed a Tenants’ Bill of Rights in February that included opening a city office within the Portland Housing Bureau dedicated to landlord-tenant affairs and requirements for just-cause evictions. It did not include rent controls.

“Portlanders face some of the fastest rising rents in the country. It is time for the city to step up to ensure renters are being treated fairly and that landlords are following the law,” Wheeler said at the time.

Even before then, both Bailey and Wheeler had promised to increase the supply of affordable housing.

Bailey currently serves on the executive board of A Home for Everyone, a collaborate effort among Portland, Gresham, Multnomah County and Home Forward to cut homelessness in half. It is planning to spend $30 million in city and county funds to build more housing affordable to those earning 80 percent or less of the median household income.

Wheeler says he supports the effort.