On December 1, 2021, Oregon Housing and Community Services closed the rental assistance application portal. At the time, state officials claimed that all $289 million in funding had been exhausted. Later that month, Oregon lawmakers approved an additional $100 million in rental assistance.
Earlier this month, the national housing agency said 81% of available funds ($235 million) had been disbursed to 33,770 households, with more than 14,700 applications awaiting processing. The agency also said the remaining funds will cover up to 9,300 of those requests, and what remains of the additional $100 million will cover the rest.
A leadership change at the agency was also announced: Director Margaret Salazar will join the Biden administration, this time as the Northwest Region Administrator of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Starting this Wednesday, January 26, the agency will reopen housing assistance applications and expects the system to remain open for approximately one month, or until all funds are claimed.
Andrea Bell, director of housing stabilization for the agency, Recount OPB that “production has been at full scale” in terms of paying out checks to tenants in need; the private contractor used by the state to process claims doubled its disbursements from $21 million in November to $42 million in December.
Bell noted that despite anticipated additional funding from the federal government, the housing department expects demand to exceed available financial resources.
“I think that’s going to be really important when we get those resources to make sure that we continue to have a full account of what’s actually out there, and continue to bring truth and transparency to that,” Bell said.
By Grace Miller