Portland Commissioner Dan Ryan and County Chair Deborah Kafoury gathered Thursday to call attention to the June 30 end of Oregon’s statewide eviction moratorium — and to encourage tenants and landlords to take urgent steps to prepare before it's too late.
As COVID-19 cases fall and as the state turns toward reopening, the Oregon Legislature’s eviction moratorium is set to expire as scheduled on June 30, 2021.
Starting July 1, tenants across the state, including in Portland and Multnomah County, will need to pay their current rent every month to stay in their housing and avoid an eviction for nonpayment of rent.
That change won’t affect back rent. Tenants will still have until February 2022 to pay any missed rent from April 2020 to June 2021. But going forward, tenants will need to stay current on all future rent payments.
“Please help us spread the word so that renters across our community understand what they need to do to avoid being at risk of eviction once the moratorium ends at the end of the month,” Chair Deborah Kafoury said. “Even if you are able to pay your rent, please make sure that other people you know are aware of these coming changes, and just as importantly, what they can do to get the assistance they need. Help is available, and you can apply for it even after you’ve received an eviction notice.”
At the same time, an opportunity for landlords is also set to expire. Wednesday, June 23, marks the last day landlords can apply for direct payments through Oregon’s Landlord Compensation Fund at lcf.oregon.gov. Once that opportunity ends, landlords will need to rely on rent assistance received on behalf of their tenants.
“Our top priority is keeping people housed,” said Housing Commissioner Dan Ryan. “We are working together—the City, the County, the state, the federal government, the nonprofits, and as tenants and landlords in order to prevent unnecessary displacement. Renters, please apply for Oregon Rental Assistance today, communicate with your landlord, and make every effort you can to pay July rent. Landlords, please apply for the Landlord Compensation Fund before midnight on Wednesday, June 23rd, help your tenants apply for assistance and prepare documents, and do everything you can to help keep them at home. Thank you to Chair Kafoury and the County for leading this work.”
Federal rent assistance is available
Even as the moratorium ends, the region continues to receive significant amounts of federal rent assistance — tens of millions of dollars — to help households who might be struggling.
Many families might already be working with community-based providers who distribute rent assistance and provide other services to households in need.
“No one in this community wants to see families evicted because of the pandemic. On June 30, the eviction moratorium ends, but it’s not like families will all of a sudden have regained their financial well-being. Many are still unemployed or underemployed and working hard to make ends meet,” said Ernesto Fonseca, CEO of Hacienda CDC, one of more than 40 community-based organizations working with the City and the County to distribute rent assistance to families in need. “It’s going to take continued partnership like this and all of us working together – landlords, government, tenants and community-based organizations – as the eviction moratorium ends to keep families in their homes.”
But tenants who don’t have those connections and need assistance — including any help with paying back rent — can learn more or apply for available funds through the following access points at the State of Oregon, City of Portland and Multnomah County:
Even if a household receives an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent after July 1, 2021, they can still seek assistance. Households who receive an eviction notice for nonpayment in July should call 211 immediately, if they’re not already working with a community provider around obtaining rent assistance.
Calling 211 in that circumstance will offer a direct connection to information and resources about rapid-payment rent assistance that can stand as a last defense against eviction. Assistance will be allocated only as it remains available. Funds for these circumstances are separate from assistance accessed through the rent assistance portals listed above.
How landlords can help themselves by helping their tenants
Ryan and Kafoury both urged landlords to work with struggling tenants, asking them to keep them in place so they can apply for help with back rent.
Though rent assistance is paid directly to landlords, it must first be requested by tenants. Landlords who evict their tenants for nonpayment in July or beyond may have a more difficult time receiving payment for back rent that would otherwise be paid through rent assistance.
Landlords can help their tenants apply for assistance and proactively prepare necessary documents:
Give your tenants your valid and active email address, phone number, the business name (if applicable) and address. Be aware that emails can end up in your junk/spam folder.
Provide a copy of their current lease. If possible, email your tenant a scan of these documents.
Provide a ledger or rent due statement. It’s particularly helpful if it is broken out by month.
If your tenant has income-qualified for other affordable housing or low-income assistance, share a copy of the eligibility determination letter with the tenant dated January 1, 2020, or later.
In the first year of the pandemic, March 2020 through March 2021, $46 million of rent assistance was received/identified for local rent assistance programs being administered by Multnomah County, the City of Portland and the County’s housing authority, Home Forward. Of that, $42 million has been committed on behalf of renters and landlords, with a goal of committing the remaining funding by June 30.
That does not include any funds allocated in our region through the Landlord Compensation Fund or through the state’s Allita portal for rent assistance.
In April 2021, the City and County accepted an additional $24 million in federal funding that will become available July 1. Additionally, the State of Oregon allocated $44 million in rent assistance to Multnomah County, which became available to renters through an electronic application portal in mid-May.
Finally, in May 2021, the City and County were notified that we would be receiving a further $31 million from the American Rescue Plan, and we are moving to make that funding available as soon as possible.
Margaux Weeke | Office of Commissioner Dan Ryan, City of Portland
Julie Sullivan-Springhetti | Multnomah County