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Senate Republicans Propose Diverse Package for Special Session
Want to address drought and public safety as well as housing

After repeated failures by Oregon’s housing department to timely implement a rental assistance program, Senate Republicans are pushing for a bipartisan agreement to fix the problem and protect landlords and renters.

“When we first started, we were miles apart,” said Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend). “We were not willing to entertain coming in to pass legislation that we believed would do long-term damage to the rental housing market. Senate Republicans have voted numerous times to extend rental protections over the last 2 years. We weren’t interested in doing it again unless we had a bipartisan deal that would fix the problem at the housing department and ensure housing providers would be made whole.”

As part of the agreement, $5 million will be directed to the Oregon Housing and Community Services to speed up the processing of assistance applications. $10 million will be placed into the Landlord Guarantee Fund, which will ensure housing providers are made whole if a renter who applied for assistance is not eligible. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program will be replenished with $100 million to ensure those who have already applied will get assistance. The assistance application portal may reopen to spend any additional money left over. Another $100 million will go to local agencies for eviction prevention programs.

The safe harbor provisions passed in SB 278 will be available to renters who apply for assistance by June 30, 2022. Those protections will last until the application is processed, or September 30, 2022, whichever is sooner. Then the program will come to an end.

At the request of Senate Republicans, Monday’s session will also include important emergency legislation to support public safety and clamp down on illegal marijuana operations in Southern Oregon; a $99.725 million drought package to help farmers and ranchers recover from this summer's heatwave; money to support incoming Afgan refugees, and affordable housing investment in targeted areas.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

“Special sessions are for emergencies,” Senator Knopp continued. “These additional bills will address urgent problems facing Oregonians. The illegal marijuana situation in Southern Oregon is absolutely an emergency. The drug cartels are committing murder, stealing water, assaulting Oregonians, and engaging in human trafficking. Law enforcement needs our support to stop these dangerous operations.

“Oregon’s farmers and ranchers were hit hard by the heatwave this summer. The resources included in the drought package are going to do a lot of good. Our economy relies on a robust agricultural sector. We need to come together for them.

Representative Christine Drazan (R-Canby) called for new leadership at the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department, citing the agency’s repeated failures to implement Oregon’s emergency rental assistance program.

Representative Drazan urged Governor Brown to dismiss the current director and to respond to calls from housing providers to take concrete steps to address the agency’s systemic problems in advance of next week’s Special Session of the Oregon Legislature.

“The rollout and implementation of this much needed program has been grossly inadequate for struggling renters and landlords alike, who were promised relief but instead have been expected to wait patiently while the bills pile up,” said Representative Drazan. “Even today, thousands of promised checks have yet to be delivered. Oregonians should not have to keep waiting while this agency continues to underperform and put stable housing at risk. It is time for Governor Brown to take responsibility for this failure and appoint new leadership within the agency instead of simply throwing millions more taxpayer dollars at the program and expecting different results.”

“Oregonians need a functioning agency,” she continued. “I urge Governor Brown to take decisive action to fix this broken program and remove Director Salazar immediately.”


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-12-10 12:54:42Last Update: 2021-12-10 13:46:00



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