Additional Dollars From Feds Allow Oregon’s Emergency Rent Program to Run One More Week

Come March 28, all applications must be completed by the tenant—a looming deadline for those whose applications continue to be bounced back to them because they’re incomplete.

Oregon’s emergency rental assistance program was set to shut down at midnight on March 14. But just hours before that, the federal government granted the state $16 million in additional funds for its program, allowing it to remain open for one more week.

Oregon Housing and Community Services, the agency running the emergency rental assistance program, has to date distributed over $302 million in rental assistance to nearly 42,000 households.

Since the portal reopened in late January after a six-week shutdown to combat depleting funds, over 24,000 more households have applied for rental assistance.

When March 21 arrives, no more rent assistance applications will be accepted by the state.

Come March 28, OHCS says, applications must be completed. That could spell trouble for many Oregonians who have continued to communicate with the state’s contractor, Public Partnerships, LLC, about missing parts of applications and have had their applications bounced back to them.

OHCS spokeswoman Delia Hernandez says the telephone help line will remain active past March 28 and that “applications will still have the chance for back-and-forth post March 28.″ “We are actively working to help applicants complete their applications and contacting them to encourage them to complete them,” she adds.

Hernandez says not all outstanding or near-future applicants will receive money because of insufficient funds.

Some 4,525 applications in Multnomah County are still under review; 1,283 applications are awaiting landlord or applicant responses.

Nearly 15,000 applications in Multnomah County have been submitted for funding.

Tenants who apply for rental assistance and show proof to their landlord are protected from eviction until Sept. 30.

Last month, Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan included the state’s COVID-19 rental assistance program in a list of planned audits because of OHCS’s yearlong inability to swiftly process applications and send out checks. The agency has vehemently defended its performance, repeatedly noting its fast work compared to other states.