Renters protest disrupts gala for landlords and property managers

Protesters demonstrate for renters' rights outside the Portland Art Museum on Thursday while Multifamily NW holds its annual gala inside. (KATU Photo)

Protesters did their best to disrupt a gala held for 'Multifamily NW' Thursday night.

Multifamily NW is a group that represents landlords and property managers. The group held their annual ACE awards ceremony at the Portland Art Museum. The awards are described on the Multifamily NW website as being the "industry's premier event giving your associates recognition within their industry and from their peers."

Another group, Portland Tenants United (PTU) decided to picket the ceremony. In a media release, PTU explained that Multifamily NW "pressures politicians to prioritize the rights of landlords over tenants, maintaining an unequal balance of power at the city, county, and state level that helps defend enormous profits through massive rent increases."

"Why does owning a home give you so much more rights to housing security than renting," said protest organizer Margot Black. "When we're paying just as much, if not more."

"My son and I, and others, thousands of others are suffering needlessly because the fat cats want to go ahead and make their pockets even fatter," said protester Nathan Starr.

The protest remained mostly peaceful. However, a small group of protesters stormed past security into the museum to try and disrupt the event. They were soon removed by security. Black told KATU News the people who did that didn't represent the protesters as a whole.

'Multifamily NW' Executive Director Deborah Imse issued the following statement in regards to the protest:

Over the past few years, rents in Oregon have risen while incomes have lagged behind, creating an urgent housing crisis. In order to thrive, the region needs to work together to create more quality housing options for families of all incomes.

For decades, Multifamily NW has worked on behalf of apartment owners and operators who provide safe, quality housing that is accessible to all families, including subsidized affordable housing. We support solutions that will expand the number and variety of housing options available, and increase public resources for affordable housing.

With demand for housing continuing to increase, we must take action to reduce rental costs by increasing the variety of housing types available to people of all incomes and creating more subsidized affordable and market rate units.

We have been working very hard over the past few years with people all across the state to increase the supply of housing, which will help grow our economy while providing more housing, including affordable housing, for people who live here.

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