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Special Session to be Held on Evictions
Courtney: “I hope we will be ready.”

Governor Kate Brown has announced that she will be calling the Legislature into special session on December 13 to address eviction protections for renters.

“As we enter our coldest months, it is absolutely essential that we take action to ensure no additional Oregon families are evicted when rental assistance is on the way,” said Governor Brown. “I have spoken directly with Oregon renters in recent weeks about the pain and hardship their families have faced due to the economic impacts of the pandemic. We must take legislative action now to approve additional state funding for rental assistance, and to extend eviction protections for Oregonians who have applied for assistance.

According to many experts, the COVID-19 outbreak itself has been less responsible for the social and economic havoc of the last two years than the government response to the outbreak. According to economist Eric Fruits, Ph.D. with the Cascade Policy Institute, "Both the U.S. and the Oregon constitutions forbid any laws “impairing the obligation of contracts.” Rental agreements are contracts. So are arrangements with utilities and student loan providers. Neither the federal government nor state or local governments can simply “wipe out” the payment provisions of these contracts."

“Our federal funds for rental assistance will be nearly spent on December 1. I am continuing to work with federal officials at U.S. Treasury and the White House to secure additional federal emergency rental assistance funding for Oregon, but it is clear that a state solution is needed to address the urgent and immediate needs of Oregon renters. And, we must begin laying the groundwork now for the transition to local eviction prevention services after federal pandemic emergency programs draw to an end.”

Oregon Housing and Community Services received $289 million in federal rental assistance funds to help Oregon renters impacted by COVID-19. As of last week, OHCS and their local partners had paid out close to $150 million in federal emergency rental assistance to over 22,000 households –– with Oregon ranking eighth in the nation for federal funds paid or obligated. OHCS and its partners have received more than 25,000 additional applications and continue to review and approve thousands of those applications each week. Nearly $20 million was paid to renters over the previous two weeks. OHCS has calculated that all remaining federal rental assistance funds will have been requested by December 1.

After conversations with legislative leaders, stakeholders, landlord associations, and housing advocates, the Governor is proposing the following framework to prevent further evictions: The package would address the immediate needs of Oregon renters through the winter months. Legislators may also be asked to take on additional time-sensitive issues during the special session that require action before February 2022.

Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) issued a statement on the special session that cast doubt on the ability of the legislature to effectively execute such an emergency session. “The Governor has called us in on December 13. That’s two weeks from today. Special sessions are the most difficult of all sessions. Everything must be carefully planned. We have a lot of work to do. I hope we will be ready.”


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-11-30 13:10:20Last Update: 2021-11-30 13:52:47



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