The audit division of the Oregon secretary of state’s office says in a statement that the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds will be audited by the director of the office’s audit division, Kip Memmott, according to reports.
The Portland Business Journal first reported the audit after a records request.
In an email to the state housing agency, Memmott said his office would release an audit plan to the public after briefing legislators. Memmott heads the audit division under Secretary of State Shemia Fagan.
“The state is facing criticism for stopping the application process for these funds even though it has been reported that Oregon was one of the timeliest states issuing rental assistance,” a description of the audit provided by Memmott said. “Issues cited by legislators and other stakeholders include technical challenges with rental-assistance software and public communication challenges.”
Oregonlive.com reported that while the program has sent funds to 38,000 households, distributing more than $268.1 million since June, the state has yet to pay out funds to another 32,000 applicants.
Both landlords and tenants have been waiting for weeks with pending requests for rental assistance and no communication or updates on the status of their applications.
Sen. Kayse Jama, D-Portland and Rep. Julie Fahey, D-Eugene, chairs of the legislative housing committee, called for an audit of the program during the December special session to address evictions. The lawmakers wrote to Fagan at the time that they were “deeply troubled” by the lack of communication from the agency to landlords and renters and the inconsistent distribution of funds across counties.
Deborah Imse, executive director of Multifamily NW, wrote in December that failed state software for emergency rental assistance was hurting families in Oregon.
“As with the landlord fund, the emergency rental-assistance program has been plagued by system crashes, ineffective notification processes and a serious lack of clear communication from administrators. Applications have piled up, leaving renters’ requests for help in limbo for months. And landlords have spent hours — if not days – online, with no assurance that their renters’ applications had even made it into the program,” Imse wrote.