Oregon renters get $8.5M of state’s $30M relief fund


The package directs $12 million to help pay rent, fund safe shelter alternatives

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon lawmakers passed a $30 million coronavirus relief fund on Thursday, which will provide some relief for those struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic. But just how much of that money will go toward helping renters? And how can they get it?

In Oregon’s first-ever virtual Emergency Board meeting, the state-approved more than $30 million in funding for those hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. That package directs $12 million to help pay rent and fund safe shelter alternatives. At least $8.5 million of that will go toward assisting renters.

Oregon state Senate President Peter Courtney in the state Senate on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky)

Senate President Peter Courtney was hopeful that the money will be available to rent payers May first.

“It better — that’s what our intent was when we voted on it yesterday and put this together,” said Courtney. “I can’t guarantee it because I’m not overseeing the program, but it better.”

To access this money, renters have two options. The first is to contact your local community action agency. Due to the pandemic, their physical locations are closed, so you will need to give them a call. The second option is to call 211.

But how long will that additional $8.5 million last? KOIN 6 News spoke with Margot Black, the cochair of Portland Tenants United. She said while the money is helpful, she believes it will be gone after one month’s round of rent payments.

“Based on what tenants have said in terms of job less, then by those calculations, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re gone in a minute,” said Black.

“It could be gone pretty fast,” said Courtney. “We got a lot of tenants that can’t pay their rent because they’re not working — not that they don’t want to pay, they’re not working. And I don’t think we have any idea how long it’s going to last. We’re doing the best we can. We don’t know.”

Senate President Courtney also said he is thrilled this funding was passed, but also wanted to warn people not to “get their hopes up” on always receiving rental assistance. Because of the state’s budget, it could be in the red next month.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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