SALEM, ORE. — Oregon Housing and Community Services estimates that nearly all the $289 million in federal emergency rental assistance allocated by the U.S. Department of Treasury to the state of Oregon has been requested, and the program will be fully subscribed in the coming weeks. As a result, the state announced today a pause in accepting new applications for the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) for six weeks, starting on Dec. 1, at 11:59 p.m. The pause will ensure the state can keep its commitment to every Oregon renter that applies for assistance until that time. In the intervening weeks, OHCS will work with the Governor’s Office and legislative leaders to pursue solutions at the federal, state, and local levels to continue to help Oregon renters.
The state allocated the federal funding more quickly than many other counties and states. Oregon is currently ranked 7th nationwide in percent of federal emergency rental assistance (ERA1) funds paid or obligated. The U.S. Department of Treasury allocated a total of nearly $360 million to Oregon, in two waves, ERA1 and ERA2. Of that total, $289 was available for rental assistance payments. OHCS estimates that nearly all of the funds for rental assistance have been requested based on applications received to date.
“It is clear the need for emergency rental assistance is far greater than the amount of federal funding available for the program at this time. This pause will allow the agency to advocate for additional federal funding or other resources at the state level, focus on quickly processing applications and assess whether we have adequate funding available to accept new applications,” said OHCS Director Margaret Salazar.
The OERAP program has provided more than $130 million in emergency rental assistance to more than 19,600 Oregon renters impacted by the pandemic. In addition to the eviction moratorium and the more than $319 million in rental assistance distributed in 2021, the OERAP program has been critical to staving off evictions for nonpayment statewide. The agency acknowledges that despite these measures, renters are still at risk.
“We continue to be concerned about the many renters who are at risk for experiencing the trauma of eviction. OHCS is working around the clock to continue accelerating payments and we are fighting for more resources for Oregon,” said Salazar.
OHCS will shift the focus to advocating for more federal funding and processing applications currently in the queue. The agency is in the process of formally requesting additional federal funding after the state met a critical benchmark of paying or obligating at least 65% of ERA1 funding by Sept. 30. At the beginning of October, OHCS submitted a letter requesting U.S. Department of Treasury funding and will submit a formal request next week. In addition, Governor Brown and legislative leaders continue to explore potential solutions using alternative state resources while requests for federal funding are pending.
Information for Renters
Anyone who has fallen behind on rent or may get behind on December rent is encouraged to apply for emergency rental assistance right away, but before Dec. 1 at 11:59 p.m. at oregonrentalassistance.org.
After Dec. 1, the agency encourages people to apply for other emergency rental assistance programs across the state to receive the 60-day safe harbor period (90 days in Multnomah County and unincorporated areas of Washington County). Some cities and counties received ERA funding directly from the U.S. Department of Treasury:
- City of Portland and Multnomah County, 503-222-5555
- Clackamas County, 503-655-8575
People can also contact 211 or Community Action Agencies in their area.
During the pause, OHCS and local program administrators will continue processing all remaining completed applications quickly, prioritizing those outside the 60-/90-day windows of protection. The agency expects that all completed applications in the queue will be processed and paid as soon as possible.
OHCS will be notifying anyone with an incomplete application to complete their application before that deadline through a series of correspondences.
If a renter has received an eviction notice, they should call 211. If a renter has received a court summons for eviction, they should call the Oregon Law Center’s Eviction Defense Project line (888-585-9638) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to seek legal help.