In response to the ongoing eviction crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon Consumer Justice has awarded more than $1 million in grants to organizations helping Oregonians at risk of eviction get the financial support they need. The grants, which were awarded to 32 community-based organizations, will address gaps in the state’s handling of emergency rental assistance and help more Oregon families maintain housing and stability.
Since May of 2021, and continuing as the eviction moratorium was lifted in July, eligible Oregonians could apply for emergency rental assistance (OERAP) to avoid eviction or having their utilities shutoff. But, as with the expansion or creation of other COVID-related emergency assistance programs, many Oregonians haven’t been able to get the support they urgently need.
Eviction is a threat to Oregonians’ short and long term financial and personal stability.
“When we began thinking about OCJ’s role in supporting Oregon renters and addressing the state’s eviction emergency, we decided that directing resources to the organizations on the ground–to those who are actively helping tenants get the financial assistance they need–was the best course of action,” said Janet Byrd, Interim Policy and Community Strategist at OCJ.
Many people trying to apply for OERAP come up against language, technology, or other barriers that prevent them from completing the lengthy and complicated online application. Some may be weary of applying for government assistance, or may not even know that the resource is available to them. And, those who do complete their applications are forced to wait for months before getting approved and having funds disbursed to their landlords–and sometimes receive an eviction notice while they wait. With Oregon Housing and Community Services continuing to receive nearly 2,000 new applications for emergency rental assistance each week, it’s clear that Oregon renters still need this critical support.
Data from Oregon Housing and Community Services, as of Oct. 7
Processed and paid applications
Applications waiting for review
Every corner of Oregon has a community of trusted partners and organizations that people turn to for information and advice they can count on. Through OCJ’s Emergency Eviction Response (EER) grants, we hope to strengthen the work of community-based partners that are using their connections, skills, and creativity to reach Oregonians and help them maintain housing and stability.
EER grants will allow organizations to expand their efforts and reach more Oregonians in need. That means more time for canvassing neighborhoods, talking with at-risk renters about their rights, sharing tenant resources and referrals to legal service providers, and helping people complete their Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program applications. Collectively, these organizations have demonstrated a commitment to supporting immigrant, low-income, and non-English speaking Oregon families; families with literacy and technology barriers; veterans; seniors; and families living outside of the Portland metro area.
For more information about EER grantees, visit the list of Emergency Eviction Response Grant Recipients.
Since our inception in 2019, Oregon Consumer Justice has distributed nearly $2 million in consumer protection, advocacy, and legal grants to community-led organizations supporting Oregonians, many of whom were impacted by wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.
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