State to temporarily reopen portal for emergency rent assistance program

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Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) will begin accepting new applications again for the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) starting on Wed., Jan. 26.

The state paused accepting new applications in early December due to dwindling funding and the need to make system improvements.

This will be a limited reopening for three to five weeks, depending on availability of funds.

The agency estimates to have sufficient funding to pay between 6,700-9,300 additional applications. Households with the most need will have priority in accessing these resources, not a first-come, first-served basis. 

Nearly 34,000 Oregon households have received more than $235 million rental assistance relief due to hardship from pandemic 

As directed by the Oregon State Legislature in SB 891 (Second Special Session of 2021), OHCS is first processing applications received before the Dec. 1 pause.

Applications received on Jan. 26 will be processed after applications received before Dec. 1.

Tenants who apply on Jan. 26 or after may receive safe harbor protections that prevent landlords from evicting tenants until their application is processed. However, those tenants should expect a delay prior to processing and payment. 

Other rental assistance is available in many localities in Oregon through local programs that are operating independently from OERAP.

Tenants applying for these programs will likely qualify for the safe harbor eviction protections. 

People can contact 211 or Community Action Agencies in their area.

As of Jan. 12, OHCS and local program administrators (LPAs) have paid $235.4 million in federal emergency rental assistance to 33,770 households, up from $222.4 million and 31,816 applicants last week, through OERAP. 

OERAP continues to be one of the nation’s top-performing programs and is ranked sixth in the nation, in the percentage of federal Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds paid out and obligated, as tracked by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Information for renters who apply on or after Jan. 26 when the portal reopens

  • Tenants who apply on Jan. 26 or after can receive safe harbor eviction protections that prevent landlords from evicting tenants until their application is processed. Tenants must show proof to their landlord that they applied for the program to receive the protections. Tenant applications will be paid based on remaining funding available and are not guaranteed.
  • Applications still awaiting landlord/tenant response at the time of closure are subject to funds remaining when application is finalized and approved, and prioritization scoring is applied and are not guaranteed for payment.
  • Tenants at immediate risk of eviction should apply for rental assistance right away to access safe harbor protections and should contact a legal organization. 
    • Oregon Law Center’s Eviction Defense Project: 888-585-9638 or evictiondefense@oregonlawcenter.org
    • Oregon State Bar: 503-684-3763 or legalhelp@oregonstatebar.org
  • Tenants should expect a delay prior to processing and payment but can count on accessing their safe harbor eviction protections immediately. 
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