The Multnomah County Commission has voted to add another 30 days to the time tenants have to apply for rent relief as there are more than 10,000 pending applications currently.
The commission, meeting in a virtual session, voted to approve an ordinance adding one month to the 60 days of protection approved by the Oregon Legislature in SB 278 before the statewide eviction moratorium ended on June 30. Tenants must apply for the rental assistance during the 90 day period and then have until February of 2022 to pay back rent.
Most of the applications for rent relief assistance in Oregon have come from Multnomah County.
The ordinance says, “Of the estimated 15,148 households who have applied for state-funded rent assistance, approximately 10,202 reside in Multnomah County. The average total annual amount of short-term rent assistance distributed in Multnomah County under pre-pandemic conditions was approximately $10 million. The County and its partners are now responsible for distributing almost $100 million, requiring a significant reorganization
and expansion of its systems. The scale of projected need as compared to other Oregon counties requires additional time for service providers to process applications,and to meet the legislative intent of Senate Bill 278.”
In terms of how landlords feel about the extension, Liam Frost, senior policy advisor, said he spoke with Deborah Imse, Executive Director of Multifamily NW who said she is opposed to the extension.
One property manager told the commission that the extension to 90 days would introduce more risk for landlords into the equation. She explained there are five main pots of money all with different requirements for tenants to access to pay landlords.
Tenants must provide their landlords with documentation that they have applied for the assistance, and must still pay all of their back rent by February 2022 to avoid being evicted.
The additional 30 days on top of the state’s 60 days was approved “to help ensure that all applications filed in Multnomah County can be processed on time. Also, many tenants who start applications abandon the application commissioners said.
Commissioner Susheela Jayapal said according to a study from Portland State there are an estimated 60,000 households across the state that say they cannot pay next month’s rent. She said there continues to be an overlapping public health and economic crisis.
“I am concerned that while the extension is necessary, it is still not sufficient,” Jayapal said. She said SB 278 protections for renters and payments for landlords is “complicated and confusing.”
“I sympathize whole hardily with landlords who are concerned our action will create further delay for them – especially small landlords,” she said but rental assistance will ultimately flow to landlords where they can get 100 percent of back rent from the landlord reimbursement fund.