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'It's stressful': Many struggling to make rent as new month begins

Tens of thousands of others have mortgage payments they owe for their homes.

PORTLAND, Ore. — April 1 is the day rent is due for many homeowners, renters and users of commercial buildings. The coronavirus pandemic brings extra pressure to lots of renters and homeowners in the greater Portland area.

The company apartmentlists.com reports that Portland has 129,500 rental properties. Tens of thousands of others have mortgage payments they owe for their homes.

And in the time of COVID-19, lots of people cannot pay. That includes Cindy Layton-Shaul.

“Well April first is the day that the mortgage is due. I’ve been trying for over a month to get ahold of them to let them know we were going to have difficulty making our mortgage payment,” she said from her home in Fairview.

She’s lived there for 20 years with her husband Ed, who is disabled.

Cindy is also a surgical tech for an area hospital.

With elective surgeries cancelled to prepare for COVID-19 patients, she’s seen her hours slashed—and her income dropped from a high of $5,200 a month—down to $2,000 a month.

Her mortgage is nearly $1,800.

“I’m the main income of the home and besides worrying about how I’m gonna pay the mortgage and keep the house, I’m also on the front lines in a hospital."

Everyone from local cities to the federal government have tried to protect homeowners and renters caught in the crushing weight of the pandemic’s social distancing measures.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Wednesday issued an executive order that prohibits foreclosures or evictions for nonpayment for renters, homeowners or those with commercial properties until the end of June.

RELATED: Gov. Brown issues commercial eviction ban

The payments are not forgiven. But they are not due right now. The order also prohibits late fees for nonpayment.

Attorney Troy Pickard, who specializes in helping renters, says it’s important to notify your landlord before the payment is due if you cannot pay. And do it in writing.

“So I think there’s a lot tenants in Portland and Multnomah County who have heard something about this- but they think- 'Hey, as long as I lost income due to the pandemic I’m off the hook for paying rent.' And they don’t realize they’ve got a deadline- today- to let their landlord know that they’re not gonna be able to make that payment,” Pickard said.

Back in Fairview, Cindy has emailed her lender and posted a message on their Facebook page. Still, it’s frustrating.

The COVID-19 virus seems to be stalking her at home and at work.

"I’m worried there about exposure, bringing it home, I can’t relax at all at work- I mean everybody is stressed out in the hospital and then you come home- you’re trying to deal with your mortgage, your bills, food, where are we gonna get the money? It's stressful. Very stressful. Scary!" She said.

RELATED: Here's when COVID-19 could peak in Oregon

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