Safe harbor protections for renters, put in place during the COVID-19 Pandemic, are expiring in Oregon on Saturday.
“There were several measures taken during the pandemic designed to slow the [eviction] process down,” Sybil Hebb with the Oregon Law Center said. “A tenant would have some hope of accessing translation services, legal assistance, social services, rent assistance in time so they could avoid displacement from their housing.”
Renters also had a 10-day grace period after receiving a nonpayment eviction notice to find help in avoiding an eviction filing. This grace period is shortening to 72 hours.
Safe harbor periods that protected a tenant’s housing stability while waiting for a rental assistance application to be processed are being eliminated entirely.
Hebb says Central Oregon is especially vulnerable, with one of the hottest housing markets in the state, low rental vacancies and little affordable housing.
“Tenants are in extra trouble if they are faced with an eviction because if they are displaced, the chances of them finding a place that is affordable with the timelines given by the courts are extremely low,” Hebb said.
Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., held a conference in Bend on Friday, speaking on affordable housing.
“We’re looking at ways to get additional help for the renters,” Wyden said. “We have so many renters hurting.”
The Oregon Law Center says evictions skyrocketed in August, with nearly 2,000 eviction filings — a number well above what was reported prior to the pandemic.