The Oregon Legislature in special session approved the extension of the state’s eviction moratorium for tenants who have or will apply for rent relief by June 30, 2022 but have not yet received any funds.
Lawmakers and others have acknowledged the distribution of rent relief has not gone well.
The bill, SB 891, extends the “safe harbor” measure that aims to help keep those renters who have applied for assistance but are still waiting for state aid from being evicted. The safe harbor will now cover those renters who will or have applied for assistance and shown proof to their landlord on or before June 30, 2022. Protections will continue until a tenant’s application is “no longer pending,” but will be extended “no later than” Sept. 30, 2022, according to the bill.
Governor Kate Brown said in a release, “I remain focused on working with agency directors to ensure relief reaches Oregonians as quickly as possible. Every Oregonian deserves a warm, safe, dry place to call home––and I am committed to working to prevent evictions as we prepare for the transition to local eviction-prevention services after federal pandemic-emergency programs draw to an end.
“Tens of thousands of Oregon renters have applied for rental assistance. While we have made significant progress in improving the delivery of rental assistance in the last several weeks, we know that renters and their landlords are counting on these additional state resources and that we must move quickly,” Brown said.
While lawmakers signed off on the bill, both Republicans and Democrats expressed concerns about the bill.
“The thing I think is so disappointing is how poorly this has been managed,” said Sen. Bill Kennemer, R-Canby, to KATU.com.
“I share your frustrations around the challenges the program has endured, but one thing we have to remember is we are in the middle of the pandemic and none of us have faced what we are facing today,” Sen. Kayse Jama, D-Portland, told KATU.com.
Rent Relief Slow For Tenants And Housing Providers
The need for this bill came about because a program hasn’t responded to applications in a timely manner. But lawmakers agreed they needed to protect renters and landlords.
Deborah Imse, executive director of Multifamily NW, wrote in an email to members that attorneys are providing guidance on the bills, which will be provided to members. She summarized the two important bills this way:
- SB 891extends eviction protection for Oregon renters who have applied for rental assistance, through their aid application process – discarding any 60-day or 90-day limit of nonpayment eviction protection.
- SB 5561authorizes millions more rental assistance dollars:
- $100 million for rent assistance
- $5 million to OHCS to speed up aid application processing
- $10 million to pay housing providers for rent balances owed – even if their tenants don’t receive rent assistance.
- Another $100 million was earmarked for longer-term renter protections and eviction prevention efforts.