PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said a special session of the legislature is needed to address several issues, the biggest of which is housing. She said she's worried about people who fell behind in rent payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic but have not been able to apply for federal help.
“To make sure tenants can stay in their homes, in their rental homes, during these dark winter months," said Gov. Brown. "And that landlords that have been incredibly patient and generous get paid for their back due rent."
The federal government sent Oregon $289 million to help cover the rent of people impacted by the pandemic. From that money, the state has paid out $157 million to 23,155 applicants so far.
The agency and its partners running the program reported getting requests from an additional 25,000 households.
“It’s a significant amount of money. This is an absolutely new system. In the last two weeks the Oregon Housing Community and Services agency has gotten more rental payments out the door than they did in the entire year of 2019,” said Gov. Brown.
The governor wants lawmakers to approve another $80 million in state funds to cover additional renters who need help until more federal money arrives. Brown said she has asked repeatedly for more federal help with rent assistance, but that it is nowhere on the horizon.
The governor also expects lawmakers to deal with two other big issues during the special session.
“I expect this special session to be focused on housing. I expect you will see some conversations regarding drought assistance happening to farmers across the entire state, and possibly public safety issues around cannabis — illegal cannabis,” she said.
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