By Associated Press • 

Salem-area residents hit hard by Oregon's rental crisis

SALEM — Residents of a 15-unit apartment complex southeast of Salem are scrambling to find new homes after they were served with eviction notices ordering them to be out by April.

The 60-day notices were issued at the Westown Manor apartments in Stayton Feb. 1, The Statesman Journal reported.

A representative with the property owner, Try Investments, declined to comment on why the evictions were taking place.

Some of the residents say they have not yet found an affordable place to live and are not sure where they will end up.

“I'll be homeless,” said Keith Troutman. “I don't have nowhere else to go.”

The two-bedroom apartment he shares with his wife, Lee Anne, is sagging and cracked. The linoleum on the floor curls up and the unit lacks adequate insulation. The previous Westown Manor owner was based in California and let the place fall into disrepair, Keith Troutman said.

The Troutmans’ upstairs neighbor, Desi Hatcher, said she has spent days looking in Stayton and surrounding cities for a new home for her husband, their four children and two dogs.

“I've paid hundreds and hundreds of dollars in application fees while still paying rent here to avoid an eviction on my record,” Hatcher said.

With rents going up, she said, those who do not make as much or who have bad credit, dogs or a conviction on their record are often picked last for apartments.

The Westown Manor residents are among thousands of Oregon residents affected by rising rents and a shortage of affordable homes and apartments.

According to a 2015 housing analysis for Salem, more than half of city renters spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

“Housing affordability affects both higher- and lower-income households and is an important issue for Salem and the region,” the analysis states.

Salem spokesman Kenny Larson said officials are working to develop more apartments within the city and more affordable housing units.

The Oregon Legislature is also considering legislation that would repeal a statewide ban on rent control and prohibit no-cause evictions. Another bill would cap rent increases statewide at 5 percent through July 1, 2018, while another bars landlords from evicting tenants without cause.

Having such legislation in place may have protected the Westown Manor residents, who have to be out of the complex in less than a month.

“We're good people,” Hatcher said. “We don't party. We don't do drugs. We're being treated like we've done something horribly wrong to end up like this. My kids shouldn't have to deal with that. They're stressed out. We're stressed out. What am I supposed to do...”

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Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com

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