Rental

Dwindling federal funds mean only renters with very low incomes who are facing an active eviction can now qualify for an extended grace period in Lane County.

The county made the "difficult choice" to close the application to "all new applicants except those in the most need" because the staff expect pending applications to use all the available funds, according to a news release. Applications will close to everyone on Monday.

Because the state also has paused applications, this means while people who already have applied for rental assistance qualify for a 90-day grace period from eviction for non-payment from rent, only those with the greatest need can apply and trigger the new protection.

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Eviction grace period extended

Just before the state’s eviction moratorium ended June 30, state lawmakers enacted a 60-day grace period for some tenants who can’t afford to pay rent. Under what’s effectively an eviction pause, tenants who show their landlord a letter proving they’ve applied for the rental assistance program have 60 days before the landlord can file eviction papers for nonpayment of rent.

The grace period buys renters more time to get financial help through the assistance program, which faces a backlog of applications as the economy struggles to recover during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lane County officials voted Nov. 30 to extend that grace period by 30 days for renters who apply for assistance. Multnomah and Washington counties also have passed measures extending the grace period to 90 days, though the extension only applies in unincorporated areas of Washington County.

Emergency session: Oregon Legislature to meet to give renters more time, money

Eviction moratoria has been a topic of hot debate among lawmakers for most of the past year, as tenants argue they can't pay rent and landlords seek to stay afloat during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Eviction moratoria has been a topic of hot debate among lawmakers for most of the past year, as tenants argue they can't pay rent and landlords seek to stay afloat during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Lane has distributed $20.53 million to landlords, tenants

On Monday, the county announced it was closing the application window to all but very low income renters facing active evictions for nonpayment of rent, limiting the newly passed protection for people who hadn't yet applied. People who already have applied still receive the additional 30 days.

The county has received $43.1 million in emergency rental assistance funding, including money to administer the program, through two rounds of funding from both federal and state coffers.

Since July 1, the county and nonprofit partners helping to process applications have distributed $20.53 million to landlords and tenants to help 3,281 households.

The state has paused new applications based on estimates that "nearly all the $289 million in federal emergency assistance we've received so far has been requested by renters," according to a news release from Oregon Housing and Community Services.

"As we look to the December holidays, our top priority continues to keep families safely and affordably housed," OHCS Director Margaret Salazar said in a statement. "We know Oregonians who’ve fallen behind on rent are stressed and scared."

Protections: As renters face tightening market, Eugene officials consider protections, fee reductions

Renters in Oregon need more time, Salazar said, and rental assistance programs need more funding.

The county recommends those who have received an eviction notice contact Lane County Legal Aid at 541-485-1017 to learn about protections, rights and responsibilities.

County staff and nonprofit partners are processing received applications "as expediently as possible," the news release says, and are prioritizing applicants with the lowest income, those with highest amount of rent owed, people who have been unemployed 90 days or longer and those impacted by last year's wildfires.

Contact city government watchdog Megan Banta at mbanta@registerguard.com. Follow her on Twitter @MeganBanta_1.

How to apply for help

Renters in Lane County might qualify if:

  • Their household income is within program limits — $3,325 a month for an individual and $475 a month for each additional person in the household

  • Someone in their household has qualified for unemployment or had a decrease in income or increase in expenses due to COVID-19

  • Someone in their households is at risk for housing instability or homelessness

Tenants can fill out and submit a pre-application for assistance from Lane County at bit.ly/3ww1Hdq or call 541-682-3776 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday to apply over the phone.

There's more information, including necessary documentation and policies, at lanecounty.org/rent.

This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Rental assistance limited as Lane County extends eviction pause

Source : https://news.yahoo.com/rental-assistance-limited-those-most-234322839.html

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