Oregon tenants still waiting for rent help as evictions loom

Oregon

Federal funds set aside for Oregon's Emergency Rental Assistance Program are trickling out at a snail's pace to desperate tenants

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon is working against the clock to deliver rental assistance to tenants facing eviction.

At the beginning of August, Oregon had paid just under 5% of tenants who had applied for help through the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Just 13% of households have been paid more than a month later and the state could lose its rental assistance funds in three weeks.

Federal dollars set aside for the program must be committed by Sept. 30 and 65% of resources must be spent by that time. If they’re not, the money goes back to the U.S. Treasury and other states will be able to use it.

“There are a lot of variables and barriers in this process and we’re working closely with our partners to keep the gas on to process as much as possible,” said Margaret Salazar, executive director of Oregon Housing and Community Services. “We’re also considering increasing the use of outside vendors to add more capacity to the system.”

As of Sept. 7, 58% of applications for rental assistance in Clackamas County, 47% in Multnomah County and 57% in Washington County haven’t even been looked at.

MultiFamily Northwest, an organization that represents landlords and housing providers, said it’s also frustrated over the technical issues and other delays that have prevented the money from going out faster. The group said the state has not answered their repeated questions or calls for more public accountability on what’s going on.

During a press conference Thursday, state officials were unable to guarantee funds would get out by the deadline but said they’re reaching out to the U.S. Treasury Department for clarification on what will happen to states like Oregon that are struggling to get the money into tenants’ hands.

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