PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The deadline to apply for rental assistance in Oregon is set for midnight Wednesday.
Officials said more than 11,000 Oregon households are at risk of eviction. The reason for halting the acceptance of these applications is massive backlog, according to the state.
Lawmakers said they’re looking at adding $200 million in additional funding for rental assistance and for eviction prevention efforts. They also plan to direct money toward helping the state get rental assistance payments out faster.
As of now, just 43% of completed applications have been paid. Oregon Housing and Community Services Executive Director Margaret Salazar asked landlords to be patient as they work to distribute the funds.
But many say they can’t afford to wait any longer.
Sybil Hebb with the Oregon Law Center said their clients are desperate for more time.
“Our clients are so concerned and scared that fear is the overwhelming or the comes to mind,” said Hebb. “People don’t know where to turn. They don’t know how they’re going to ensure that their kids have a roof over their heads in the coming days, weeks. And they’re desperate to find a way to protect themselves from eviction.”
“Director Salazar said that housing providers just need to be patient and wait until the money gets out the door. Frankly, that’s insulting. Housing providers and renters have been doing their part for the last 18 months and it’s time for the agency to do its part and cut the checks,” Imse said.
Rep. Julie Fahey said legislators “know that the money needs to get out the door quickly and that’s why in this special session proposal we are proposing additional funding to help expedite those payments.”
Multifamily Northwest, a group that represents landlords, is frustrated with the state’s slow delivery of emergency assistance.
“The state has refused to accept any accountability for the mismanagement of this program and we simply cannot support a special session that will delay disbursement,” the group said in a statement to KOIN 6 News in part. “The state needs to hold up their end of the deal and cut the checks to Oregonians in need”
Despite the state’s decision to pause accepting applications, Washington County’s local Emergency Rental Assistance Program is continuing to accept applications.
According to local agency Community Action, the county receives funds from the U.S. Treasury as approved through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of December 2020 and the American Rescue Plan Act of March 2021. Organizers say Washington County funds continue to support the local program pathways that are through Community Action.
The agency’s assistance has allowed Washington County to cut around 20 days from their processing time.
“Our priority right now is meeting the needs of Washington County renters struggling financially by helping them stay in their homes and helping property owners who are also feeling financial pressure,” said Board of County Commissioners Chair Kathryn Harrington. “Nonetheless, renters should expect several weeks before payments directly to landlords are made due to high demand for this vital support.”