PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A tenant rights advocacy group in Oregon is urging Governor Kate Brown to extend the pandemic-inspired eviction moratorium, which is currently slated to end in July.
The Community Alliance of Tenants said 90,000 Oregonians could be at risk of eviction once the moratorium ends. That’s a figure based on a U.S. Census Bureau survey, according to CAT. The experimental Household Pulse Survey of the Census Bureau is designed to quickly and efficiently deploy data collected on how people’s lives have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, according to its website.
The data, released on May 5, said those 90,000 respondents have low confidence in being able to pay rent and currently have unpaid rent, according to CAT’s Executive Director, Kim McCarty.
McCarty said CAT was supportive of Senate Bill 282, just signed into law by Brown on Wednesday, which extends the deadline for people paying back rent to next year.
Previously that back rent had been due in July as well. Now the deadline is February 28, 2022. However the new law doesn’t extend the eviction moratorium nor does it forgive back rent.
“Right now, six weeks, we don’t have enough time. Everyone is trying very hard to get our systems in place. But realistically, even a few more months of an eviction moratorium, give that kind of safety net, will give our social service agencies the time to get rent assistance into everyone’s hands,” McCarty said.
McCarty said CAT speaks with thousands of people on a hotline about landlord-tenant law, hearing from many of them that some renters haven’t worked for months and haven’t been able to pay rent.
“They’re very worried that when the eviction moratorium ends, at the end of June, they may not have the money to pay July rent. They may not have that job.”
CAT has teamed up with Portland State University and next week, Tuesday May 25 at 6 p.m., they are holding a virtual event to break down the data. There’s also a website for the campaign, called “Cancel the Rent,” whose main purpose is to advocate for suspending rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the pandemic, provide support for tenants during this time and includes provisions for a recovery period afterward.
While the total sum of unpaid rent in Oregon may range between $249-$379 million, according to a National Council of State Housing Agencies Report, healthcare costs attributed to 90,000 people becoming homeless may cost the state anywhere between $1-$3 billion, according to the PSU research.
McCarty said it’s important that Oregonians know about funds that just became available Wednesday to help low-income households in the state with their past due rent and utilities. Individuals can apply for the federally-funded Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which has a total of $280 million available, through their website.
The “Cancel the Rent” digital town hall will feature a number of speakers, including McCarty, Tara Raghuveer of People’s Action, Michelle Huang of PolicyLink, Dr. Lisa K. Bates of PSU and Cea Weaver of Housing Justice for All. People can register for the event here.