PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas counties are upping the incentives for the Regional Long-Term Rent Assistance program, hoping the new addition of funding to cover excessive damage expenses and a rental bonus will encourage more landlords to participate. 

The tri-county program began in 2021 through the Supportive Housing Services Act. It provides ongoing rent payment assistance and other services to people struggling with housing instability. 

Property owners in Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas counties are encouraged to become partners in the program and make their units available for people to rent through RLRA. 

The counties say all types of housing within the metro urban growth boundary can participate. 

The new incentives guarantee participating landlords are receive rent – since tenants pay what they can based on their income and the county provides the rest of the monthly payment. The rent assistance will increase if the tenant’s income reduces. 

Landlords also receive a $500 bonus for each unit leased to a participating household, vacancy payments, and direct referrals of applicants who have already been approved for rent assistance. 

The counties are also offering a new Risk Mitigation Program, which offers financial protection to landlords and will cover the cost of damage expenses or operational losses that occur in an RLRA-assisted unit. The landlord can request reimbursement. 

One example the counties gave was of an elderly tenant who had recently transitioned from independent living to assisted living. 

At the home she’d been living in, there was damage that had occurred when she started having trouble navigating around the unit with her mobility device. There was also damage from when EMTs had entered her home to provide her medical treatment.

“Thankfully, the [RLRA Risk Mitigation Program] was able to help cover the damages as well as the rent she was unable to pay during the transition. This provided the participant the support she needed to transition to her next home, and it helped our agency maintain a positive relationship with the property, where we hope to help other seniors find housing,” Corrie Etheredge of Northwest Family Services wrote in a press release. 

The three counties hope that by offering a financial safety net to property owners of RLRA-assisted units, more landlords will be interested in joining the coordinated effort.

County officials say one of the biggest obstacles renters face in the current housing crisis is finding landlords who will rent to them.

Emily Roots, a communications coordinator for Washington County, said in many ways, renting through the RLRA program is a safer option for landlords, since rent is guaranteed even more than it is with a traditional tenant.