Oregon lawmakers approved more than $700 million for housing needs that go beyond the emergency prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to avoiding evictions and foreclosures, the 2021 Legislature aimed at increasing the supply of lower-cost housing, helping people without permanent shelter, and reducing housing disparities faced by racial and ethnic minorities. Lawmakers went well beyond what they did in 2019 when they barred no-cause evictions of renters and requires cities of 10,000 or more (plus all cities within the Metro boundary) to allow for duplexes or other multifamily dwellings on land zoned for single-family homes. The moratorium on evictions ended June 30, though the grace period for payments of past-due rent from the pandemic is extended by Senate Bill 282 to Feb. 28, 2022. Prompted by the slowness in state and federal funds for rental assistance reaching landlords, lawmakers gave tenants a 60-day safe harbor from evictions under Senate Bill 278 if they show proof they have applied for assistance.
“Evictions and foreclosures can have a generational devastating impact on families,” Rep. Julie Fahey, a Democrat from Eugene and leader of the Housing Committee, said. She worked with Rep. Jack Zika, a Republican from Redmond, to craft both the state’s original assistance of US$200 million to landlords and tenants during the Dec. 21 special session, a month before the 2021 session got down to business, and the safe-harbor provision that passed in the session’s final days. Federal aid boosted the available amount for rental assistance to around us$500 million. Lawmakers reinstated a separate moratorium on residential foreclosures in House Bill 2009, which currently runs through Sept. 30. Gov. Kate Brown can extend it by executive order once more through Dec. 30, if she gives advance notice.
US$47 million will be used for increasing emergency shelter capacity and navigation centers for the next cold-weather season, including US$26.5 million for low-barrier emergency shelters in eight cities (US$2 million to Bybee Lakes Hope Center in Portland), US$10.5 million for shelters in Salem, and US$9.7 million for additional motel-to-shelter Project Turnkey sites. One of those will be in Multnomah County.