PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The federal eviction moratorium expired Saturday, but renters in Oregon and Washington are still protected from eviction a bit longer – if they’ve applied for rental assistance.
Oregon is still struggling to get that money out.
At the beginning of July, the state had paid less than 2% of tenants who applied for help through Oregon’s emergency rental assistance program. Today, just under 5% of households have been paid.
“We’re very concerned about the pace at which the rental assistance is getting out to those households that need help,” said Michael Havlik, the deputy executive director for Multfamily NW.
He said that as of July, around 10% of households reported they still can’t pay rent and desperately need funding to prevent a wave of evictions.
There’s still a lot of work left to do and not a lot of time to do it before protections for renters expire. If a tenant in Washington can show they’ve applied for rental assistance, they are protected from eviction until Sept. 30.
For tenants in Oregon who live in Multnomah County and can show they’ve applied, protections last through Sept. 25. For all other counties in the state, rental protections are set to expire at the end of August.
“There is ample funding in the state to prevent anybody from getting evicted who needs the help right now, and people are actively applying for the money to get that help, but it just, right now, it seems like the pace is just not fast enough to get the help to the folks that need it,” said Michael Havlik, deputy executive director for Multifamily NW.
The state is also up against a deadline for federal funding.
Federal dollars set aside for the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance program have to be committed by Sept. 30, and 65% of resources must be spent by then. If it’s not, the money goes back to the U.S. Treasury and is then up for grabs to be used by other states.
“There is ample funding in the state to prevent anybody from getting evicted who needs the help right now and people are actively applying for the money to get that help,” Havlik said. “But it just, right now, it seems like the pace is just not fast enough to get the help to the folks that need it.”
Oregon Housing and Community Services said it has hired more people to speed things up and is now bringing in an external vendor to help – because 70% of rental assistance applications in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties haven’t even been processed.
“Certainly when we learned about the funding last December, we never thought that we might be up against a timing deadline for this,” Havlik said. “So the fact that we’re even thinking about deadlines for getting the money out is problematic.”