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Oregon commits virtually all funds for emergency rental aid

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Oregon Capital Bureau

Oregon has now committed virtually all of the $389 million in federal and state money to provide emergency rental assistance to more than 60,000 households.

The program had a target of June 30, but some applications are still being processed. Tenants who gave proof of applications to their landlords — either to the state program or others in several Oregon counties — will still have state protections against evictions for nonpayment through Sept. 30 or until their applications are closed, whichever comes soonest.

The protections do not forgive any rent owed.

The state Department of Housing and Community Services reported that the money distributed over the past year helped keep more than 100,000 people from losing their housing during the coronavirus pandemic. The size of the average household was 2.2 persons — and according to a May 31 report by the agency, the average payment per household was $6,400, which went directly to landlords.

Andrea Bell took over the agency April 1 after her predecessor, Margaret Salazar, became the regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“A one-time payment keeps a family in their home, and a landlord is made whole,” Bell told lawmakers on the House Committee on Housing last month. “It saves the community three to four times the value of the rental assistance, if the family had become homeless.”

As of June 30, the agency reported that it had committed $386.66 million to 60,166 households.

Applications from Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties accounted for 49.4% of the statewide total. The counties took up $221.1 million of the $386.7 million paid (57.2%), no surprise given that rents are more expensive in the metro area.

Of the total paid, 60% of the households were white, 12% Black, 2% Asian, and 5% two or more races. Hispanics, who can be of any race, accounted for 15% statewide. Some households chose not to state their race.

The agency distributed $289 million in federal money, some if it from legislation that Donald Trump signed in the final weeks of his presidency, and the rest from the $2.2 trillion American Rescue Plan Act that President Joe Biden signed in March 2021. The Oregon Legislature added $100 million more from the 2021-23 state budget; another $150 million in state funds were spent before the current budget cycle started in mid-2021.

According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, Oregon now leads all states in the share of money paid out or obligated for emergency rental assistance.

There are no moves in Congress or the Legislature to replenish the fund, which was intended to be temporary.

Landlords can obtain state payment for some costs they incur from now through Sept. 30 through a separate guarantee fund.

In the next phase, as emergency rental assistance winds down, the state agency and the community action agencies it works with can tap $100 million that the Oregon Legislature approved in December 2021 for eviction prevention. The state also has federal funds for this purpose.

Some money can be spent on rental assistance, but the community action agencies are empowered to spend it on mediation services, legal services and case management.

Among them are agencies in each of the three metro counties, one for three northwest Oregon counties, one each for Marion and Yamhill counties, and one for the three Central Oregon counties.

For Multnomah County, it’s $8.16 million; Clackamas County, $2.66 million; Washington County, $1.7 million; Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties, $1.2 million; Yamhill County, $893,700, and NeighborImpact of Central Oregon, $2.1 million.


Some statistics about Oregon emergency rental assistance from the Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services, as of its June 30 status report:


115,023 total applications filed; 60,166 paid, 52.3% of total, $386.7 million.

Multnomah County:

36,637 filed, 31.9% of state total; 21,092 paid, $142.5 million, 35.1% of total.

Washington County:

13,118 filed, 11.4% of state total; 7,022 paid, $55.4 million, 11.7% of total.

Clackamas County:

7,062 filed, 6.1% of state total; 3,013 paid, $23.2 million, 5% of total.

Columbia County:

1,371 filed, 1.2% of state total; 777 paid, $3.7 million, 1.3% of total.

Yamhill County:

2,184 filed, 1.9% of state total; 1,083 paid, $6.7 million, 1.8% of total.

Marion County:

8,484 filed, 7.4% of state total; 4,496 paid, $28.6 million, 7.5% of total.

Deschutes County:

3,940 filed, 3.4% of total; 2,015 paid, $12.6 million, 3.3% of total.

Crook County:

503 filed, .4% of total; 177 paid, $920,260, .3% of total.

Jefferson County:

545 filed, .5% of state total; 229 paid, $1.2 million, .4% of total.

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