WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., announced Wednesday that Oregon will be allocated more than $90 million in federal assistance from the American Rescue Plan for homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage, home insurance and utility payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“No one should have to fear losing their home due to circumstances beyond their control, like a global pandemic,” Wyden said. “The economic fallout of this public health crisis has underlined just how close many Oregonians to losing the roof over their heads to defaults and foreclosures. The American Rescue Plan has thrown our state and our nation a vital lifeline, and these funds will go a long way toward remedying some of that hardship.”
“Everyone — regardless of the color of their skin, their zip code, or their income — deserves a safe, affordable roof over their head,” said Merkley. “But for so many families, this pandemic has caused losses of income and new, unexpected costs, making it especially hard to keep up with mortgage payments. I’m grateful that this funding is headed to our state where it will help Oregonians stay in their homes, and will continue to work to secure the funding our communities need to make housing more accessible and affordable during the coronavirus crisis and beyond.”
Wyden and Merkley both voted for the American Rescue Plan Act, which among its provisions provides up to $9.96 billion in relief nationwide for homeowners through the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF). The purpose of the HAF is to prevent mortgage delinquencies and defaults, foreclosures, loss of utilities or home energy services, and displacement of homeowners experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funds from the HAF may be used for assistance with mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance and utility payments. Homeowners who have experienced the greatest hardships will be prioritized.
HAF funds will be distributed through Oregon Housing & Community Services.
“We know that tens of thousands of Oregon homeowners have fallen behind on their mortgage because of unemployment, reduced hours, or lost small business revenue during the COVID pandemic,” said Emily Reiman, CEO of DevNW. “Combined with a temporary foreclosure moratorium, we’re so grateful for the support of Senator Wyden and Senator Merkley for getting this financial assistance is a huge step forward in helping homeowners recover and preventing a wave of foreclosures that would devastate Oregon families.”
“This critical funding will directly help struggling Oregon families when they need it most. Oregon REALTORS® believes no one should lose their home because we have stayed home through the pandemic, and this will help tremendously," said Jenny Pakula, CEO of Oregon REALTOR®.
“Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, Inc. is eager to assist our residents in Baker, Grant, Union, and Wallowa counties with the Homeownership Assistance Funds that Senators Wyden and Merkley successfully advocated for,” said Margaret Davidson, Executive Director, Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, Inc. “We personally know of many homeowners who have been waiting months and months for assistance with their loans that have fallen into default because of the COVID-10 pandemic.”
“For homeowners earning a low income, the pandemic has brought severe challenges and threatened the stability and sanctuary that enabled many to safely shelter-in-place,” said Steve Messinetti, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Portland Region. “From missed mortgage payments to overdue utility bills, Oregonians who lost a job still risk losing what is likely the biggest asset they own--their home. The Homeowner Assistance Fund will help prevent a mass wave of displacement and ensure that hard working families, like Habitat homeowners, hold on to their piece of the American Dream.”