Concerned with the speed at which rental assistance is getting in the hands of Oregonians, Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) is taking multiple steps to make rental assistance resources available to Oregonians across the state, including the hiring of an outside vendor to assist partners with their backlog of applications.
“Across much of the state applications are moving,” said Andrea Bell, Director of Housing Stabilization. “Most of the additional capacity from our third-party vendor will help those agencies serving the tri-county area, where we are most concerned with the speed at which assistance is getting in the hands of tenants. As the state housing agency, we will continue taking bold action to stabilize renters.”
Historically in Oregon, rental assistance application processing takes place at the local level. OHCS has expanded to bring on an additional 63 staff and contractors to process applications and help tenants finalize their incomplete applications. The agency is currently working with a vendor to more than double that number. This unprecedented move will ensure applications are processed as quickly as possible and will provide much needed support to local administrators and the Oregonians they serve.
“Investing in an equitable recovery is something we have an unwavering commitment to,” said Margaret Salazar, Executive Director of OHCS. “Workers and families across the state are just beginning to recoup from the trauma and economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we must do all we can, and use all tools available to protect them from becoming unhoused during this vulnerable time.”
Tenants applying to the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) can receive help with bills to ensure they stay stably housed while qualifying for additional eviction protections.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) issued a new moratorium on evictions yesterday but the limited version does not provide universal coverage. In Oregon, renters have additional protections for nonpayment of rent if they apply for rental assistance. To ensure tenants struggling to pay rent and utilities are served as quickly as possible, OHCS is shifting outside of the normal agency role temporarily to provide additional support especially to the Metro area which has seen the greatest number of applicants.
The Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program is open and accepting applications and can cover current, future and back rent, along with utilities. This is the first time the agency has run a statewide portal where Oregonians can access a singular application regardless of region. The centralized portal increases language access, transparency and allows the state to target additional resources to Community Action Agencies with backlogs. The application is available to all individuals living in Oregon, regardless of immigration status. Tenants who fear they may fall behind should find out if they qualify and apply today at oregonrentalassistance.org. Spanish speakers in need of assistance should contact the Oregon Human Development Corporation, 1 855-215-6158.
OHCS cannot provide legal advice. If a tenant receives a notice of eviction for nonpayment, they should call 2-1-1 immediately to get directly connected to information and resources. Additional nonpayment of rent eviction information about legal protections are available at the Oregon Law Center website. Renters who have gotten court papers about an eviction can call the Eviction Defense Project line (888-585-9638) or email EvictionDefense@oregonlawcenter.org
OERAP is working with a variety of culturally specific organizations, community-based groups and landlord partners to spread the word about rental assistance. Resources are available to help prevent evictions and ensure basic housing security for Oregonians struggling to stay housed during the global pandemic. To help get the word out about these important resources please visit the community partner page of the oregonrentalassistance.org website to download the latest flyers and social media tiles.
Source: Oregon Housing and Community Services