Millions of rent assistance available after moratorium ends this week

The Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency plans to distribute $ 1 million per week over the next several months to troubled tenants. In addition, Marion County will have $ 20 million to pay for rent relief by the end of July.

Some Salem tenants received a notice on their door this week informing them that the moratorium on evictions ended on June 30, 2021 (Saphara Harrell / Salem Reporter)

Millions of dollars are pouring in to tenants in Marion and Polk counties who were unable to pay their rent during the pandemic and now face a countdown to pay or face eviction.

The Oregon eviction moratorium ended Wednesday and while there is a provision that allows a 60-day grace period for tenants who have requested help, the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency s ‘strives to get around $ 1 million spent each week for the next three months.

“This is going to be a very stressful time for everyone,” said Jimmy Jones, executive director of the agency.

The social service provider last week began spending its allotted $ 14 million on Oregon’s emergency rental assistance program, which Jones says will help around 1,915 households . Last week they spent $ 1.1 million in federal money.

“It’s a fraction of what the need is out there,” Jones said.

He said 2,600 people locally have applied for rent assistance through Oregon Housing and Community Services, which has an online portal for people to apply statewide. Applicants must prove that they have been affected by the coronavirus, whether through loss of income or illness, and must earn 80% of the region’s median income or less.

The financing can pay the rent back and future rent payments.

Community Action previously distributed two more rounds of funding, one to be spent by December and the other by June 30.

Half of those helped by the program were Hispanic or Latino, although Latinos make up about a quarter of Marion County’s population, according to census data.

Jones said the average household received $ 7,300 through funding allocated by the state legislature in December.

Portland State University’s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative this week released a report that Oregon could spend $ 720 million to $ 4.7 billion to respond to evictions if more tenant protections are not implemented.

Jones said he believed the expiration of the moratorium on evictions would lead to a wave of evictions statewide.

That’s why the extra 60-day grace period is so important, he said. This gives the agency time to process hundreds and hundreds of applications.

He said there is a high probability that many households are unaware of the available resources.

Marion County has the fifth highest amount of unpaid rent of all counties in Oregon, according to an analysis of data from the National Equity Atlas, a project by the University of Equity Research Institute. Southern California and PolicyLink, a California-based research and advocacy organization. group.

Renters in Marion County owe a total of $ 12.8 million in past rents, just behind what is owed in Lane County and the three counties that make up the Portland area.

Marion County has received $ 20.8 million in emergency rental assistance from the Federal Treasury Department and expects to have more information on how this will be rolled out in the coming weeks.

County spokesperson Jolene Kelley said the county is in the process of rolling out its program and expects it to go live in late July.

The first round of funding, $ 10.4 million, is aimed at households earning at least 80% of the median income, with past due rents or utilities, perceiving unemployment and who have suffered a loss of income due to Covid.

Those earning less than 50% of the region’s median income will be given priority as well as those whose household member has been unemployed for 90 days or more.

In Salem, a three-person household earning less than $ 31,850 per year would qualify.

The county will also prioritize seniors, families, victims of the Santiam Canyon wildfires and those referred by Marion County Department programs.

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]

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