Landlord relief coming too late for some Oregonians

Oregon

Applications for the $150 million Landlord Compensation Fund closed on Friday

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon is working to prevent a wave of evictions when the eviction moratorium expires at the end of June.

Estimates show roughly 15% of Oregonians are still behind on rent, which is why the state created the $150 million Landlord Compensation Fund.

The first round of applications for the money opened in February and closed Friday at 4 p.m. So far, Oregon has received more than 1,600 applications from landlords who, in total, need more than $19.5 million in assistance to cover unpaid rent. The funds have not yet been distributed.

The one-time-only funds, carved out in a bill by Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, offers funding for landlords whose tenants filed official declarations of financial hardship during the state’s ongoing eviction moratorium. Landlords must forgive 20% of their tenants’ back rent in order to receive state compensation for the other 80%.

Oregon Housing and Community Services, the state agency administering the funds, will dole out as much as $50 million each month to landlords until June 2021 — or whenever the money runs out.

Former landlord Debra Kay Nemec told KOIN 6 News said she had one rental house in Oregon City before the pandemic hit. She said at first, her tenants started paying rent late.

“Then they just stopped paying altogether and I took a deferment on my mortgage because I couldn’t pay the mortgage without the rent,” she said.

Eventually, Nemec’s tenants were six months behind and owed her $15,000, not including utilities. She said her only option was to sell the house.

“It was better than having a year’s worth of mortgage hanging over my head and having my house repossessed because that’s what would’ve happened, I would have had to have a foreclosure,” said Nemec.

National estimates show the average renter who is behind owes approximately $5,400.

Oregon’s Landlord Compensation Fund is prioritizing small landlords like Nemec but that help didn’t come soon enough in her case. She said she was also struggling due to COVID and couldn’t afford to pay two mortgages.

Oregon plans to open another round of applications for assistance in April.

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