Brown to call special session to protect renters from evictions

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) — With winter coming and federal funds drying up, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown says she’ll call a special session of the Legislature Dec. 13 to approve state funding for rental assistance and to extend eviction protections.

Brown said it is clear that a state solution is needed to address the urgent and immediate needs of Oregon renters.

She proposed that protections be extended for everyone who has applied for rental assistance, that landlords are paid in full for the rent they are owed, and that up to $90 million in additional rental assistance be provided to low-income tenants through the winter.

“As we enter our coldest months, it is absolutely essential that we take action to ensure no additional Oregon families are evicted when rental assistance is on the way,” Brown said in a statement “I have spoken directly with Oregon renters in recent weeks about the pain and hardship their families have faced due to the economic impacts of the pandemic. We must take legislative action now to approve additional state funding for rental assistance, and to extend eviction protections for Oregonians who have applied for assistance.

“Our federal funds for rental assistance will be nearly spent on December 1. I am continuing to work with federal officials at U.S. Treasury and the White House to secure additional federal emergency rental assistance funding for Oregon, but it is clear that a state solution is needed to address the urgent and immediate needs of Oregon renters. And, we must begin laying the groundwork now for the transition to local eviction prevention services after federal pandemic emergency programs draw to an end.”

The governor’s full statement Tuesday is below:

“As we enter our coldest months, it is absolutely essential that we take action to ensure no additional Oregon families are evicted when rental assistance is on the way,” said Governor Brown. “I have spoken directly with Oregon renters in recent weeks about the pain and hardship their families have faced due to the economic impacts of the pandemic. We must take legislative action now to approve additional state funding for rental assistance, and to extend eviction protections for Oregonians who have applied for assistance.

“Our federal funds for rental assistance will be nearly spent on December 1. I am continuing to work with federal officials at U.S. Treasury and the White House to secure additional federal emergency rental assistance funding for Oregon, but it is clear that a state solution is needed to address the urgent and immediate needs of Oregon renters. And, we must begin laying the groundwork now for the transition to local eviction prevention services after federal pandemic emergency programs draw to an end.”

Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) received $289 million in federal rental assistance funds to help Oregon renters impacted by COVID-19.

As of last week, OHCS and their local partners had paid out close to $150 million in federal emergency rental assistance to over 22,000 households––with Oregon ranking eighth in the nation for federal funds paid or obligated.

OHCS and its partners have received more than 25,000 additional applications and continue to review and approve thousands of those applications each week. Nearly $20 million was paid to renters over the previous two weeks.

OHCS has calculated that all remaining federal rental assistance funds will have been requested by December 1.

After conversations with legislative leaders, stakeholders, landlord associations, and housing advocates, the Governor is proposing the following framework to prevent further evictions:

  • Extend eviction safe harbor protections for each individual who has applied for rental assistance.
  • Ensure landlords are paid in full for the rent they are owed.
  • Provide up to $90 million in additional rental assistance to ensure low-income tenants access through the winter.
  • Provide $100 million to transition from large-scale pandemic-related emergency rental assistance to long-term, locally-delivered eviction prevention services.

The package would address the immediate needs of Oregon renters through the winter months. Legislators may also be asked to take on additional time-sensitive issues during the special session that require action before February 2022.

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