PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With the state and federal eviction moratorium set to expire at the end of June, Oregon lawmakers passed a safety net for struggling tenants that will “pause” some evictions.
Under the “Safe Harbor” amendment on Senate Bill 278 tenants, who are unable to pay their July or August rent, would not be evicted for 60 days if they provide proof to their landlord that they’ve applied for rental assistance through Oregon Housing and Community Services. The amended bill passed Tuesday will head to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk next to be signed.
Many Oregonians, however, are still waiting for the funds they had applied for. Executive Director of JOIN, Katrina Holland, said even with the additional 60 days, there is still concern about mass evictions.
“This system of rent assistance has been disinvested in for decades,” she told KOIN 6 News. “It’s never handled this kind of volume, it couldn’t handle the volume pre-covid. So expecting it to handle the volume post-covid and avoid a lot of evictions.”
“We’re gonna try our best but it’s unrealistic to think that we’re going to be able to save everybody.”
While Holland said SB 278 is a step in the right direction, she said she was disappointed the state couldn’t come up with a better system. She pointed to California’s ongoing discussion about total rent forgiveness on a larger scale for low-income tenants.
Currently 10,830 households have completed applications for rent assistance in the state, according to Oregon Housing and Community Services.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.