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Testimony to extend housing protection during Covid [HB4401]

Testimony to extend housing protection during Covid [HB4401]

We submitted the following written testimony, in addition to similar video testimony, in support of Oregon’s LC18 [which became HB4401, and passed on 12/21/2020] during the special session. It extends housing protections by coupling a landlord compensation fund with an extended moratorium on rent-payment-based evictions. Oregon Housing and Community Services has information on the landlord compensation fund.

Co-Chairs President Courtney & Speaker Tina Kotek, Co-Vice Chairs Sen. Girod and Rep. Drazen, and members of the committee,

Thank you for your hard work in helping Oregonians in this difficult year.

We are writing to encourage you to extend housing protection in the special session, through passage of LC18. Our group, Rental Providers for Positive Change, works to learn about, develop, share, and encourage practices that are pro-tenant, pro-community, and pro-environment. We support making housing options more equitable and stable, and increasing the safety net.

Tenants and rental providers need to be able to stay in place during the pandemic, and during the school year, with minimal exceptions. Inability to pay rent should not lead to evictions during this time. The federal government has not done what is necessary to aid people financially, so it’s up to us on a state level to try our best to keep our communities stable. Even if the federal government steps up in a couple of months, it will be too late for many households.

We don’t have detailed recommendations on the specific policies, but do want to emphasize that any process needs to be simple and easy to understand for tenants and for rental providers. It needs to be clear and accessible for people with language or tech barriers. The proposal for a landlord compensation fund to be at 80% seems reasonable; in this economic crisis, full compensation does not seem realistic or necessary as we all pitch in together to try to hold our communities together. The needs of those who are most vulnerable should be considered first; the concentration should be on making it easy for tenants to qualify without facing long delays, overly stringent deadlines, or retribution.

Long-term, the lack of a strong safety net will still be a problem post-Covid; we encourage you to continue to address issues of poverty and inequity as critical keys to the health of Oregon.