Over the course of the last few years ago I have been one among a growing number of voices who have challenged Landlords in particular, and Legislators and Housing Organizations in general, on what changes need to take place for us as a community to stay on top of the housing industry and remain relevant and become more pro-actively engaged in this fast-evolving market.

Everybody wants safe, affordable housing. But the question is: Are we using the best building blocks to create and maintain this infrastructure, either metaphorically or with actual construction plans?

Anyone who has been a Rental Housing Provider in this decade has seen and felt how dramatically our business has shifted. These days, it seems that all too often Landlords show up at the party way too late to have much of a presence. Housing policy decisions with huge economic impacts are now routinely made even before the “invitations get sent out”. Rental Property Owners vie for limited space at the table; unincluded as part of the A-list of attendees; at times unrecognized as true stakeholders in the business that they themselves fund with their personal liabilities and ownership.

This last decade we watched as Tenants’ rights activists found Tenants’ rights advocates who founded Tenants’ rights groups. They found Housing Policy legislators who now craft Housing Policy bills, that have become the foundation for a new era of Tenant Protection Policy.

Much of the spirit of these policies is laudable with reasonable goals. But at the end of the day, as the newest regulations pile onto the previous newer ones, we are left with laws that we do not like; laws that compound the problems instead of fixing them. Yet if we choose not to comply with these new laws, we will pay substantial penalties. Or if we attempt to challenge them in court to prove our case, we will be left with substantial legal costs. So, if we decide to accept and adapt to them, they must then become our new reality by which to navigate.

Justifiably Oregon Landlords are asking “Where can we turn for leadership and guidance?”
To address these dynamic times, Rental Housing Alliance Oregon has made a remarkable commitment to Landlords and opted to change their structure for the first time in 92 years! On April 1, 2021 they hired their first Executive Director in recognition of the urgent need to address the process of providing the best services to assist, educate, motivate, and advocate for Oregon Rental Property Owners.

Here is the premise: No matter what happens legislatively, Rental Property Owners will not be put out of business. As cynical as one may get,
rental housing in Oregon will not become a socialized government product. Tenants need Landlords to succeed, and Landlords need Tenants to succeed. Our State, County and Local governments need the rental industry to succeed.

The goal for Rental Housing Alliance Oregon is to be there for its membership. Landlords need them to be provided with the most up-to-date forms, the highest quality industry training, the easiest accessible helpdesk, the strongest legislative advocacy, and the most robust vendor referral directory available in today’s marketplace.

So it is with great enthusiasm and a hefty dose of humility to say that I have been selected to this position of responsibility as your new Executive Director for the Rental Housing Alliance Oregon.

I believe that a renewed commitment to our industry matters. We cannot keep doing the same things the same way. As an illustration, I sat in a friend’s new Tesla the other day. I had no idea how to drive it. I assumed there would be no gas gauge but was not prepared for the fact that there was no dashboard at all! (Just something that looked like an i-pad fastened to a bare counter). Can it really steer itself?!?

Change is everywhere. It can cause us old timers to become disoriented. Thankfully, we have younger generations who are optimistically focused ahead, and I look forward to how they will help us in re-imagine our own industry. As we proceed to re-boot through this decade Rental Housing Alliance Oregon will begin to re-tool for another century of “landlords helping landlords”. But I plan on keeping our tag line:

“Since 1927, Rental Housing Alliance Oregon has set the standard for community participation by Landlords providing affordable and fair housing.”

Ron Garcia is the Executive Director of RHA and can be reached by phone at 503-254-4723 Ext 4 or email at ron@rhahoregon.org