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Oregon's emergency rental assistance funds caught in backlog

Around 1,200 applicants are still waiting to receive their money due to a backlog of applications.

PORTLAND, Oregon — More than 23,000 households have been approved for the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program. While most have been paid out, about 1,200 applicants are still waiting to receive their money due to a backlog.

Musonda Mwango is one of them. 

He rents an apartment in Portland and filed his application for the program in June.

"Any sources of income I had completely went away. At the same time here, I am left with three kids that I need to take care of," said Mwango.

When he found out Oregon got $289 million in federal funding to help people pay their rent, he thought there was some hope.

"For most of us that had basically lost just about everything, it became one of those things like, 'Thank you, God, we get a lifeline here.'"

Mwango said accessing the lifeline has not been easy. His application was approved in August but he still hasn't received any funds and he doesn't know when they'll arrive. 

RELATED: Oregon to pause new applications for emergency rental assistance

So far more than 22,000 applications have been approved and nearly $150 million has reached renters. And tens of thousands of others have completed their part of the application process but are still awaiting final approval.

The state is pausing the program for at least six weeks starting Dec. 1. Officials hope the pause will give them the chance to work through the backlog and get renters like Mwango the money they've been promised.   

He met with Gov. Kate Brown last week to discuss his situation and hopes lawmakers will convene in a special session to look for new ways to help renters struggling with financial hardships due to the pandemic.

Learn more about the emergency rental assistance program online by clicking here.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated 51,000 households had been approved for the rental assistance program. 

RELATED: Over 10,000 Oregon households received federal Emergency Rental Assistance funds

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