CARES Act dollars have been allocated, but aren’t being used
Oregon Governor Kate Brown, the Oregon Legislature and Oregon counties are making policy decisions regarding housing that are slowly degrading the long-term availability of housing and setting the stage for a new housing crisis in an already fragile market.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act -- the CARES Act -- was a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in late March 2020. Oregon's cut was about $2.45 billion, of which $1.6 billion is available to local governments, and of that $60 million has been earmarked for rental assistance. As of October 2, only $23 million -- about 38% -- has been expended.
During the first special session of 2020, held in June, the legislature enacted an eviction moratorium
expiring at the beginning of September. Governor Brown extended this moratorium by executive order
on the eve of its expiration.
This money is not only needed by tenants. The assistance given to tenants must find it's way to private sector housing providers so that they can continue to operate and provide housing. It also has a much needed stimulative effect, as those dollars make their way into the sagging economy.
Parts of the system are broken and are leading to an inevitable systemic meltdown ahead for housing providers, tenants or both.
- Tenants are not required to provide any documentation supporting their need. They need not provide proof of loss of income or even an affidavit supporting the loss. This invites fraud.
- Despite the poor response of the Employment Department, many who lost income received unemployment compensation. Again, there is no requirement that any tenant demonstrate that they filed for and did not receive unemployment compensation
- The Oregon Legislature and the Governor have enacted and extended moratoria on evictions for non-payment of rent.
- Many counties, knowing that rental assistance isn't needed for tenants to maintain housing -- because of the moratorium on evictions -- see little urgency to provide rental assistance funds.
Because of the eviction moratorium, there currently isn't any impact on tenants. Those tenants who choose not to pay their rent are amassing a debt that grows monthly and the time will come when they will have to make good, but the real hurt is felt by housing providers -- often families who are dependent on the rental income -- and they are growing more and more upset as they get left behind legally and financially.
The positive impact of a stop-gap measure like an eviction moratorium is at its peak in the short-term, when people are trying to react to the chaos. After several months, even if personal solutions aren't optimal, for most people, they need to fall into place. At about this time, the negatives start to mount. Tenant debt increases, while housing providers continually have to scramble to make ends meet -- even to maintain the property. What gets harder and harder as time goes on, is the end game.
Because most tenants don't have thousands of dollars in savings, the final chapter has to have one or more of these elements:
- The government does nothing and tenants, unable to pay back months of rent, finally are evicted and sued for past debt.
- The government bails out tenants, and by doing this, makes landlords whole. Taxpayers, not so much.
- The government enforces some sort of program by which tenants pay back months of unpaid rent over time.
- The government declares amnesty for tenants and housing providers are left absorbing the debt.
None of those are pretty, and all get uglier as time goes on.
Rental relief funds are distributed by Community Action Agencies, which serve larger counties or collections of smaller counties, but some have been better than others in distributing the funds. For instance, Clackamas County has only distributed 7.9% of the funds available. Jackson and Multnomah Counties aren't much better at 10.3% and 16.2% respectively. The CAA leading in percentage of distribution, NIMPACT, which is a combination of Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson and the Warm Springs Reservation has only expended 78% of their funds. It begs the question, "Why aren't these counties able to get these funds into the hands of tenants, then housing providers and on to the larger economy?"
Below is contact information for Community Action Agencies across the state.
ACCESS – Jackson County
Community Action Washington County (CAO) – Washington County
Community Action Program Of East Central Oregon (CAPECO) – Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla & Wheeler Counties
Access application through their website.
Community Action Team (CAT) – North Coast
503-397-3511 – Columbia County
503-325-1400 – Clatsop County
503-842-5261 – Tillamook County
Community Action of NE Oregon (CCNO) – Northeastern Oregon
541-523-6591 – Baker County
541-575-2949 – Grant County
541-963-7532 – Union County
541-426-3840 – Wallowa County
Clackamas County Social Services (CCSS) – Clackamas County
Community Services Consortium (CSC) – Linn, Benton, & Lincoln Counties
541-704-7646 or 541-704-7642 – Linn County
541-704-7625 – Benton County
541-574-2280 – Lincoln County
Community in Action (CinA ) – Malheur and Harney Counties
Klamath and Lake Community Action Services (KLCAS) – Klamath and Lake Counties
Lane County Human Services – Lane County
Access rental assistance application Lane County website.
Mid-Columbia Community Action Council (MCCAC) – Columbia Gorge
541-298-5131 – Wasco & Sherman Counties
541-386-4027 – Hood River County
CALL: 211 or 1-866-698-6155 (Language interpreters available by phone)
TTY: dial 711 and call 1-866-698-6155
TEXT: your zip code to 898211 (TXT211) (text and email in English and Spanish)
WEB: search for resources on our online database- https://www.211info.org/search-resources
Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action (MWVCAA) – Marion & Polk Counties
503-399-9080 x 4003
NeighborImpact (NI) – Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson Counties and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
541-548-2380 x 210 or go to the website
Oregon Coast Community Action (ORCCA) – Coos and Curry Counties
541-435-7080 x 370
United Community Action Network (UCAN) – Southern Oregon
541-672-5392 – Douglas County
541-956-4050 – Josephine County
Yamhill Community Action Partnership (YCAP) – Yamhill County
Oregon Human Development Corporation (OHDC) – Statewide services for migrant farmworkers
|Post Date: 2020-10-09 09:12:38||Last Update: 2020-10-09 10:14:04|