(Update: Adding video, comments from housing stabilization director)
REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- NeighborImpact’s COVID Rent Relief program is supporting Central Oregonians who cannot afford rent to due to circumstances related to COVID-19.
The coronavirus health crisis has had a huge economic impact on the nation. Individuals and families across the region have lost income and jobs as a result of the pandemic.
While a moratorium on evictions has prevented homelessness for many, it has not eliminated or reduced the cost of rent, which continues to accumulate each month.
When the moratorium lifts, many families will be facing eviction without the funds to pay several months’ worth of past due rent expenses.
Through incredible investment by the Oregon Legislature’s Emergency Board, Oregon Housing and Community Services and federal CARES Act funding, NeighborImpact is able to help eliminate the financial burden and stress with these rental assistance funds.
NeighborImpact received $2.69 million from $55 million being distributed statewide in COVID rental relief funds. Last month, it received about $438,000 for rent relief from an $8.5 million statewide allegation by the Legislative Emergency Board.
On Thursday, NewsChannel 21 spoke with Molly Heiss, NeighborImpact's director of housing stabilization.
She said some of the people applying for help have never experienced asking for financial assistance before.
"People at the higher end of their median income limit, they’ve had the resources previously to navigate higher rent payments, higher car payments, higher bills," Heiss said. "Then, to suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them, and have to navigate this system of poverty, has been really traumatic for them."
She said with the funds, NeighborImpact is able to pay rent up to six months forward for some people who qualify.
Heiss said households making between 0 to 30% of the median income would receive six months forward; those who make between 31 and 50% would receive four months forward, and those in the 51 to 80% range would receive two months forward.
To be eligible to receive funds, households must:
- Reside in Crook, Deschutes or Jefferson counties or the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs -AND-
- Have income at or below 80% Area Median Income as defined by their county (details below) -AND-
- Have lost a job or income due to COVID-19 -OR-
- Have compromised health status, elevated risk of infection or vulnerability preventing them from regaining financial stability due to COVID-19
80% Area Median Income per county (income before taxes):
|1 Person||2 Person||3 Person||4 Person||5 Person||6 Person||7 Person||8 Person|
NeighborImpact encourages anyone who needs help paying back rent or rent going forward or both to apply right away—even if you think that you may not qualify. Funds awarded will be paid directly to the landlord or property manager. Citizenship is not required to receive help; these funds will not create a public charge determination.
This program is one of many ways that NeighborImpact continues to support people and strengthen communities.
For more information or to apply for COVID Rent Relief, visit https://www.neighborimpact.org/covid-rent-relief/.
As an essential business providing essential services to disadvantaged individuals in Central Oregon, NeighborImpact will continue to serve all three counties and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Those needing assistance may access services via telephone and online or in person in Bend, Redmond and Madras.
For updates on NeighborImpact's response to COVID-19, visit: https://www.neighborimpact.org/coronavirus-response/.
About NeighborImpact: NeighborImpact is a private non-profit governed by a board of directors drawn from across the community. Since 1985, NeighborImpact has led the region in developing solutions and bringing resources to Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. We help meet the basic needs of Central Oregonians, build economic security and create a community where everyone thrives. NeighborImpact receives federal, state and local grants, foundation grants and donations from individuals and businesses in our community. To learn more about NeighborImpact, please visit www.neighborimpact.org.
News release from Oregon Housing and Community Services:
State Distributes $70 Million in COVID-19 Rental Relief and Energy Assistance
Oregonians can access assistance by calling 211 or visiting 211info.org
SALEM, OR – Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) is distributing $55,000,000 in COVID rental relief funds and $15,000,000 in Energy Assistance to local organizations statewide.
“Rental and energy assistance provides immediate relief to people in crisis,” said OHCS Executive Director Margaret Salazar, “I am very happy we were able to act swiftly to get these additional resources into communities to help our friends and neighbors who are struggling to make ends meet.”
At the June Joint Emergency Board meeting, state lawmakers unanimously allocated $95 million in Coronavirus Relief funds to OHCS for housing stabilization, rent assistance and energy assistance. $55,000,000 is dedicated to emergency rental assistance. These resources will augment the COVID Rent Relief Program announced by the state in May. Eligible tenants must have had their ability to pay rent impacted by the COVID pandemic and live at or below 80% in Area Media Income (AMI) of the county for which they reside.
“This rent relief will help to ease the financial strain on Oregon families who have been unable to pay rent due to COVID-19, but we have more work to do,” said Governor Kate Brown. “I will continue to work with legislative leaders, community partners, and Oregon Housing and Community Services to help Oregonians who are struggling financially to stay housed during this pandemic.”
The rental relief funds were distributed to Community Action Agencies (CAAs) across the state. The Oregon Legislature also provided $15,000,000 in Energy Assistance to Oregonians financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Oregonians concerned about their ability to make upcoming rent payments or concerned about keeping the lights on should contact 211 to find out about assistance options in their area. CAAs and key partners are taking applications for assistance from residents in their service area. These services are provided free of charge by CAAs.
To find out how to access these resources in your area visit 211info.org or call 2-1-1. The full list of Community Action Agencies, funding allocation amounts and service territories with contact information can be found here.