The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously this morning to keep tenants housed by extending the eviction moratorium until July 2, 2021—plus a six-month repayment grace period to pay back rent.

That means back rent won't come due until January 2022.

This vote comes just a few days before a special legislative session will be held where Oregon's elected officials, including Gov. Kate Brown, will determine if a similar moratorium will be extended statewide. The session begins at 8 am Monday, Dec. 21.

Renters across the state are at risk of nonpayment eviction and potential homelessness amid job losses driven by the pandemic, and the county is using this extension as a safety net. It's the fourth extension this year.

"It means so much to so many people right now who are suffering with no immediate end in sight," Commissioner Lori Stegmann says.

This morning's board meeting agenda was focused on housing. Before the year is up, the board plans to vote on the decision to allocate $2.5 million from the federal CARES Act to go toward the Joint Office of Homeless Services in order to provide more supplies for houseless people during the winter.

Commissioners will also vote on how to spend the 2018 Metro bond construction dollars to create more affordable housing.

Chair Deborah Kafoury said public health experts advised the county on the threat posed by mass evictions that could further fuel the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

"The onset of severe weather season means that living outside will be more dangerous for our neighbors without housing. Renters are wondering if the current eviction moratorium will extend past the new year," Kafoury says. "Multnomah County renters can rest assured that, at the very least, no matter what the state does or doesn't do, they will be protected from eviction in the new year."