Lawyers want new Multnomah County tax to fund eviction defense attorneys
WHO UNDERSTOOD IT?
Tenants organize against displacement
WHO GAVE IT?
The Portland Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
In 2020, when COVID-19 made it difficult to collect signatures, Democratic Socialists in America worked aggressively on the streets and garnered enough support to impose a preschool income tax for all, the first of its kind. , on the Multnomah County ballot. Officials changed the DSA measure and instead presented their own version to voters (it passed with 64% of the vote).
Now the DSA is throwing its might and its money behind a measure that would pay lawyers to represent tenants facing eviction. The idea, aimed at the November ballot, would follow similar policies currently in place in New York, California, Washington state and other jurisdictions. It would impose a capital gains tax of 0.75% — which, like the head start tax for all, would hit mostly high-income earners — to raise about $12 million to $15 million a year for lawyers.
WHAT DOES THE CAMPAIGN SAY?
Campaign organizer Colleen Carroll says the number of evictions filed in other cities and those that are successful have both gone down when tenants have access to lawyers. His group is seeking a stand-alone tax to ensure funds are not diverted to other uses. “We envision a group of salaried lawyers with a reasonable workload,” she says. “We want the funding to be sustainable and not easily cut.”