Oregon’s ready to start distributing $8.5 million to help tenants pay rent during the pandemic.
The money, which came to the state through the federal coronavirus relief package, has been divided among 18 local agencies. Each group will be tasked with distributing the funds to renters, who under the statewide eviction moratorium can delay rent but have to pay it back once the moratorium ends.
This has led to fears among some that a significant backlog of rent could come due all at once. Rent relief is one way to ensure possible mass evictions don’t happen.
“We want to make sure that folks who have lost [their] job or lost hours due to COVID-19 are not going to lose their housing as a result,” said Kenny LaPoint, public affairs director for Oregon Housing and Community Services, the state agency overseeing the COVID rent relief program.
The agency decided how big a cut to give each local organization using a “needs-based formula,” which factored in data on rent burden, poverty, homelessness and unemployment claims. According to an agency release sent Monday, these organizations are expected to start taking applications from renters in the coming days. Some are still hammering out the details of how they’ll hand out money and who will be prioritized.
Staff from Multnomah County’s Department of Human Services, which received over $1.6 million from the state — the largest cut of any agency — was in talks Monday about distributing the funding “equitably and efficiently,” according to a department spokesperson.
While the finer details are still in flux county-by-county, the main criteria on who can get the funding has already been set by the state. Here’s what they said:
Who can get it:
Anyone who makes up to 50% of the area median income can apply for rent relief. But applicants will be prioritized based on need, according to LaPoint. And those who’ve been financially impacted by the pandemic will be highest on the list. With the unemployment rate spiking, LaPoint said he suspects most of the money will go to those applicants whose loss of income is COVID-related.
Renters will need to show proof of income loss. LaPoint said the kind of documentation required will vary by agency.
What it can be used for:
The money is meant to address some of the backlog of rent payments. This means it can be used to cover April and May rent, as well as future payments. Tenants whose applications are accepted should see the money go straight from the agency to their landlord.
How to apply:
The state’s housing finance agency has provided contact numbers for each organization, which can be found below. Renters should give the organization a call or go on their website to find out more specifics on how to apply.
The state has also set aside nearly $456,000 as part of the rent relief program to help farmworkers make rent. The Oregon Human Development Corporation, a nonprofit that assists farmworkers statewide, will be distributing the money. Eligible renters should call 855-215-6158.
Here’s the best contact information for the other 17 agencies, as provided by the state's housing agency:
ACCESS, Inc., 541-494-1210
Community Action, 503-615-0770
Lane County Human Services Commission, access applications through this website: https://lanecounty.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=3585881&pageId=16741613
Wasco County, Sherman County:
Mid-Columbia Community Action Council, (541) 298-5131
Hood River County:
Mid-Columbia Community Action Council, 541-386-4027
Umatilla County, Morrow County, Gilliam County, Wheeler County:
Access application through this website: www.capeco-works.org/housing.html
Polk County, Marion County:
Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, 503-399-9080 x 4003
Community Action Team, Inc., 503-325-1400
Community Action Team, Inc. 503-397-3511
Community Action Team, Inc. 503-842-5261
CALL: 211 or 1-866-698-6155 (Language interpreters available by phone)
TTY: dial 711 and call 1-866-698-6155
TEXT: your zip code to 898211 (TXT211) (text and email in English and Spanish)
Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, 541-426-3840
Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, 541-963-7532
Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, 541-523-6591
Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, 541-575-2949
Jefferson County, Deschutes County, Crook County, and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs:
NeighborImpact, 541-548-2380 x 210 or go to the website: https://www.neighborimpact.org/get-help/get-housed/rent-assistance-programs/
Clackamas County Social Services Department, 503-655-8575
Harney County, Malheur County:
Community in Action, 541-889-9555
Community Service Consortium, 541-574-2280
Community Service Consortium, 541-704-7625
Community Service Consortium, 541-704-7646 or 541-704-7642
Klamath County, Lake County:
Klamath/Lake Community Action Services, (541) 882-3500
Coos County, Curry County:
Oregon Coast Community Action, 541-435-7080 x 370
United Community Action Network: 541-956-4050
United Community Action Network, 541-672-5392
Yamhill Community Action Partnership, 503-687-1494