SALEM, Ore. — With lawmakers returning to the Oregon state Capitol for a special session on Monday, Gov. Kate Brown said eviction protections and rental assistance won’t be the only topics of discussion.
Following bipartisan conversations with leaders in the Legislature, Brown Friday outlined additional priorities that lawmakers have agreed to address — including drought relief, illegal cannabis proliferation and humanitarian impacts and support for Afghan refugee resettlement.
Arguably the most pressing issue is that thousands of Oregon households are currently struggling to pay rent. More than 67,000 Oregon households recently reported that they feel “not at all confident” they can cover next month’s bills, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau survey.
After working with lawmakers from both parties, Gov. Brown proposed $215 million in funding and policy changes to protect renters from eviction. That includes:
- Extending protections against eviction for individuals who have already applied for rental assistance and who initiate safe harbor protections by June 30, 2022. Those eviction protections would remain in place while applications are being processed, and would end no later than September 30, 2022
- Repaying landlords in full for unpaid back rent
- Up to $100 million in additional emergency rental assistance
- $100 million to support partnerships with existing programs, as the state transitions from emergency rental assistance to locally-delivered eviction prevention services
“Oregonians facing potential eviction do not have time to wait––they need an immediate solution that keeps them in their homes. And, in the last year, people across Oregon have faced unprecedented challenges due to record heat and persistent drought conditions,” said Gov. Brown in a news release. “I’d like to thank the legislators from both sides of the aisle who have worked with me over the last several days to put together a package of policies and investments that meet the pressing needs of Oregonians.”
Gov. Brown also proposed $25 million to address illegal cannabis grow operations around Oregon, as southern Oregon in particular sees a boom in illegal farms, and $100 million for drought relief, which would include forgivable disaster relief loans, money for agricultural workers who miss work during unsafe working conditions, domestic and community well assistance and drought resiliency upgrades.
Her proposal also calls for $18 million to help with Afghan refugee resettlement in Oregon. The legislature will also address other issues, Gov. Brown's office said, including affordable housing, grants to outdoor recreation outfitter guides affected by the drought or the pandemic, Oregon Health Plan dental funding, an East Metro outreach, prevention and intervention program and demonstration projects for cross-laminated timber housing.