Oregon to Receive Additional $8.5 Million in Emergency Rental Assistance

Oregon will get another $8.5 million in federal emergency rental assistance money, the state’s two U.S. senators recently announced. 

The largest portion of the money – almost $6.9 million – will go to the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department, which manages statewide rental assistance programs. The department has paid more than $386 million in rent and utility assistance for more than 51,000 Oregon households since May 2021. 

People who fell behind on rent during the pandemic were eligible for up to three months of payments for future rent and utilities and up to one year of back rent and utilities. Applications for assistance closed in March because Oregonians requested more in aid than the department had available.  

An agency spokeswoman said the new federal money will go toward requests that have already been submitted. Under a state law passed in December, the department must finish all pandemic-related rent payments by September.  

The city of Portland, which runs its own rent assistance program, will get the next largest portion of federal funding, $1.1 million. As of June, the Portland Housing Bureau reported spending $90 million to help almost 20,000 households.  

Clackamas County, Washington County and the Coquille Indian Housing Authority will also receive more federal money for rent assistance, at $251,000, $174,000 and $15,000, respectively. 

In statements, Wyden and Merkley both said the additional federal money for emergency housing is just part of an ongoing effort to help Oregonians remain housed.  

“The pandemic’s deep economic impact, including the challenges it placed on the consistent need to pay rent, continues to ripple even as Oregonians go back to work,” Wyden said. “Housing is a human right, so I’m glad to see more federal funds come into our state to help renters get extended assistance to cover costs. This is a good step in the ongoing battle to keep roofs over heads, as Senator Merkley and I keep fighting for more permanent housing solutions.” 

Merkley added that he and Wyden will work together to get more federal money for Oregon.  

“Everyone deserves a safe, affordable place to call home, but many Oregonians are struggling with the rapidly rising cost of housing,” Merkley said. “This critical emergency rental assistance will help provide a lifeline to many families to help cover the costs of rent.” 

By Julia Shumway of Press Partner Oregon Capital Chronicle 

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