PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The city of Portland and Multnomah County are partnering to help people pay rent during the ongoing pandemic but officials don’t think leaders are offering enough to help cover the bills.
The Oregon Housing Alliance along with organizations across the country are calling on Congress to add $100 billion in rent assistance in the next stimulus package.
Alison McIntosh with the Oregon Housing Alliance said recent research shows one in five renters in Oregon don’t feel confident they’ll be able to pay next month’s rent.
McIntosh said many people in Oregon spend a large amount of their incomes on rent.
“We absolutely need rent assistance,” McIntosh said. “Without rent assistance, we’re really going to see an increase in homelessness.”
There’s currently a moratorium on evictions through September but everyone is expected to pay rent or risk eviction starting Oct. 1. Those who took advantage of the moratorium will have only until March 2021 to pay back all past-due rent — something McIntosh believes won’t be possible for many people without help.
“Folks who lost work or income due to COVID are not going to be able to pay several months of back rent without assistance, particularly folks with low incomes,” she said.
The city of Portland and Multnomah County announced Thursday they’ll be using $29 million of state, local and federal funds to provide up to three months of rent assistance to some 4,300 households.
But state and local leaders say more than 21,000 households across the city and county aren’t able to pay rent in a given month. In light of this, officials are calling on Congress to include sufficient rent assistance in the next stimulus package.
“We all really need to think about the long-term consequences of this failure to act if we’re not able to secure this level of rent assistance,” McIntosh cautioned.
Lawmakers in Washington, DC, still haven’t reached a deal on a new stimulus package. President Trump called for a moratorium on evictions this week and threatened executive action if Democrats and Republicans can’t reach an agreement soon.
The office of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown shared the following statement with KOIN 6 News:
“Governor Brown took immediate action in March and April to halt evictions so Oregonians could stay in their homes and businesses could stay in their locations during this pandemic. In June, the Legislature extended the moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures further and set up procedures for repayment schedules, going a long way in ensuring working families can stay in their homes and small businesses can continue operating amidst the pandemic. The Legislature’s Emergency Board has also allocated $55 million for rent assistance through December, and $20 million for affordable housing operating support for Oregon Housing and Community Services partners. (In April, the Emergency Board also allocated $12 million in emergency funding for safe shelter and rental assistance.) Congress has also passed about $82 million in housing supports and other housing-related services for Oregonians, including funds for rental and utility assistance. We will continue to work with the Legislature to find solutions that will give Oregonians more certainty about rent and housing over the long term.”