PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon senate passed two bills during Monday’s special session providing more protections to keep people housed, while thousands are at risk of eviction as the state struggles to get rental assistance out fast enough.
Senate Bill 891 extends the safe harbor period for tenants so they can’t be evicted if they’ve applied for rental assistance and are waiting for their application to be processed through September 2022.
Senate Bill 5561 adds an additional $200 million for rental assistance and eviction prevention and another $5 million to help the state process applications faster.
The bill also includes an additional $10 million for the Landlord Guarantee fund to reimburse landlords for non-payment of rent and other fees during the safe harbor period.
“Over on the coast, McDonald’s is paying $15 an hour with benefits, so there’s no reason that they should be drawing off the state coffer to stay at home, I’m sorry, that’s just part of it,” Senator Fred Girod (R-Stayton) Stayton said.
Tim Knopp, the republican senator representing Bend noted “there are too many renters and too many landlords left that need to be paid and made whole and the only way we can do this is to pass this bill.”
The bills passed on the senate floor and now go to the house for a vote.
Additionally, the director of Oregon Housing and Community Services said they are confident they will have the initial rental assistance funding expended by March 2022.
They also committed to making the application process easier and giving landlords and tenants better information about where their application stands.
Currently, more than 8,000 households are at risk of eviction as protections keeping them housed expired after they waited more than two months for rental assistance.
More than 22,000 households are still waiting to be reviewed for state aid.
After the session, Senate President Peter Courtney acknowledged that success was not guaranteed at this special session.
“There was no plan. No agreement. Success was not guaranteed. Your Legislature worked hard since that day,” Courtney said in a statement. “Today, we helped tenants stay in their homes while keeping landlords whole. We sent relief to farmers and ranchers who have been hurt by the drought. We provided money to support Afghan refugees arriving in Oregon. And we took a big step forward in the fight against illegal marijuana operations.”