With rents due and some paychecks coming up short due to lost hours during January's crippling snowstorm, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury are asking landlords to go easy on tenants who may find themselves in a financial bind, the Portland Business Journal reports.
In an open letter posted this morning, the two asked landlords to work with tenants rather than evict them now that this month's rent has come due. They noted that some renters may be facing paycheck shortfalls because of January's weather, which found businesses across the metro region closed and employees unable to make it into work.
"Many people in our community are bringing home incomplete paychecks this month because they couldn’t safely make it to work, because they faced sudden child-care burdens with schools shut down, or because their employers were shuttered during the worst of the weather. We should work together to ensure that being a few dollars short doesn’t lead to the trauma of homelessness," Kafoury and Wheeler wrote.
Rather than charge late fees or put tenants on an eviction track, the two asked landlords to find other solutions.
"For tenants who can show they worked fewer hours in January than in past months, we ask that landlords consider waiving late fees in February, and entering into voluntary payment plans to recover past due rent rather than issuing non-payment of rent notices and pursuing evictions."
The letter also listed how the city and county worked together during the snowstorm to open more than 700 emergency shelter spaces in community centers, churches and office buildings around the city. They also noted that, with a winter storm watch in effect through Friday, the city and county will again be opening warming shelters.
This year, the city, county and Home Forward have also provided $5.8 million in local, state and federal funding for a shared short-term rent assistance program.
"The close coordination and hundreds of community volunteers we saw during the storm shows us what our community can do when we come together," the letter closes. "We know we can continue working together now to improve lives."
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