An eleventh-hour influx of federal funding has allowed Oregon's emergency rental assistance program to continue accepting applications for an additional week.
The Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP), which was initially scheduled to shut down on midnight March 14, will now remain open to new applicants until midnight on March 22. In response to the state's request for additional support, the US Department of Treasury cut Oregon a $16 million check late Monday to keep the program running an extra week.
Oregon renters are currently protected from being evicted due to non-payment of rent—including unpaid back rent—if they have proof of applying for rental assistance. Tenants can still be protected from eviction up until September 2022 if they have a rental assistance application pending with any entity in the state. While OERAP has been the main source of rental assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, other nonprofits and community organizations have also offered rental aid—which can be accessed through 211.
According to state data, OERAP alone has paid out $302 million in rental assistance to an estimated 41,880 households over the past nine months. Oregon's interim Director of Housing Stabilization Jill Smith said that the new $16 million will help keep an estimated 2,200 households reliably housed.
Smith said she was "overjoyed" to learn of the additional funds Monday evening—and hopes this isn't the end of the aid.
“Our message to US Treasury remains loud and clear: if other states have money they can’t use—send those dollars to Oregon," said Smith in a Tuesday press release.
Last Wednesday, tenant advocacy groups and other community organizations held a press conference to request more support for Oregon renters.
"The end of OERAP is a blow to tenants statewide," said Kim McCarty, director of the Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT). "We're still in a renters' state of emergency and lasting changes are needed."