Oregon households behind on their rent will have a few more days to apply for emergency rental assistance because of a late infusion of $16 million in federal aid.
The new deadline for applications is 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 21. Incomplete applications, which must be started by the first deadline, must be completed by March 28.
The Oregon Housing and Community Services Department had announced last week it would close the online portal for applications on March 14. It had closed the portal on Dec. 1, then reopened it on Jan. 26. Since the reopening, almost 25,000 new applications have been filed in addition to thousands that have not been processed.
Under state law, tenants are shielded from eviction proceedings for nonpayment of rent if they show proof of application to their landlords, and as long as the application is under review. Approvals are based on need, not on a first-come, first-served basis.
The $16 million from the U.S. Treasury is in addition to $100 million approved by the Oregon Legislature at a Dec. 13 special session, plus $1.1 million released by the Treasury afterward and $13 million that the state housing agency was able to divert from housing stabilization programs.
Still, Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon's congressional delegation had urged the Treasury for $198 million in addition to the state's original allocation of $289 million, which the housing agency and its partners have now committed or spent to help more than 40,000 households. Oregon also has spent $200 million in state funds approved in December 2020.
"Our message to U.S. Treasury remains loud and clear: If other states have money they can't use, send those dollars to Oregon," Jill Smith, inter director of housing stabilization for the state agency, said in a statement.
Oregon is among the top states in its share of emergency rental assistance paid out, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition. The Treasury is in the process of reallocating emergency rental assistance that other states and communities failed to spend.
The state program is assisted by Public Partnerships LLC and community action agencies throughout Oregon. Five counties and the city of Portland also received federal money for rental assistance.