Software woes blamed for Oregon’s sluggish rollout of rent help

Oregon

For tenants who live in Multnomah County and can show they’ve applied, protections last through Sept. 25

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon continues to work to get rental assistance money into the hands of those who need it as eviction deadlines loom.

Just 13% of Oregon tenants who applied for help through the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program had been paid last week; that figure was up to 16% on Friday.

Of the $204 million Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) has for the program, slightly more than $34 million has been paid out.

In a meeting Friday with the Oregon Housing Stability Council, OHCS said it estimates the backlog could be cleared in nine to 13 weeks.

The executive director of Neighbor Impact — a community action agency responsible for processing applications and cutting checks in Central Oregon — said they’ve been slowed down by ongoing technical issues with the state’s software system, Allita.

“I don’t think the centralized system is worth the sacrifice of Oregonians’ peace of mind for getting their rent paid,” said Scott Cooper. “I think we were given this money by the federal government to get the money into people’s hands and that’s what we ought to be doing and anything that’s in the way of that, we need to plow over the top of it, including not-working software systems for which Oregon is famous.”

Cooper said Neighbor Impact formally asked the state in April to ditch Allita and go back to the old system but they’re still using it. He said the current system is working better now but they still have major problems that need to be fixed in order to get money out faster.

“We are in a race against time with the evictions that are looming and we need to make sure that people are taken care of and that no Oregonian loses their home because rental assistance couldn’t happen,” he said.

Deborah Imse, the executive director of MultiFamily Northwest, also told KOIN 6 News Oregon renters deserve better.

“Oregonians deserve some level of accountability because currently it is likely that we will lose a lot of federal dollars and renters who couldn’t gotten rent assistance could not get it,” Imse said.

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