Time runs out for thousands awaiting rent help in Oregon

Oregon

To date, Oregon has sent rental assistance to just 37% of households that have applied for it

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon continues to struggle to get rental assistance out to thousands of people facing eviction. And time has already run out for some people.

Oregon saw 361 evictions move forward in July, 462 in August, and 473 in September, according to the Oregon Law Center. But Becky Straus, the managing attorney for the Eviction Defense Project, said these numbers are only expected to go up as the state struggles to send out rental assistance.

“The processing has been so slow that we are seeing an increasing number of tenants in eviction court who are just out of time with very few options,” Straus said.

So far, 37% of households that have applied for help through Oregon’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program have been paid.

“We know that there are about 12,000 households who are out of time now on their protections, they’re at risk of evictions right now and about 15,000 additional households are continuing to be at risk as the days tick on,” said Straus.

Oregon Housing and Community Services said it’s doing everything it can to speed things up, including hiring additional staff and sending more applications to an outside vendor for faster processing.

“We’re actively working on ways to expand the work of people, to hold them accountable, to hold the local program administrators accountable and to increase the capacity throughout the system and those are the steps we’re continuing to take to streamline this,” said Margaret Salazar, executive director of OHCS.

The state estimates it will take until the end of the year to get through the backlog.

“It’s frustrating, in some cases it’s tragic. Any eviction right now, any displacement for a tenant because they are unable to pay their rent, is preventable,” said Straus.

If a renter has fallen behind on rent after July 1, 2021, they should call 211 right away and apply at oregonrentalassistance.org. The agency has developed an application checklist for tenants to use and the application is currently available in five languages.

  • If a renter owes back rent prior to July 1, 2021, they should apply at oregonrentalassistance.org. Rent owed prior to that date is not due until February 28, 2022, thanks to Senate Bill 282.
  • If a renter received an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent, they should call 211 right away. They should not leave their home right away because there are numerous resources and legal services available to them.
  • If a renter receives a court summons, contact the Oregon Law Center’s Eviction Defense Project line (888.585.9638) or email the Project (evictiondefense@oregonlawcenter.org) to seek legal help.

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