Oregon Housing and Community Services opened applications Tuesday for a final round of funding through its $150 million Landlord Compensation Fund. Landlords can apply for relief to cover 80% of the rent they are owed by residential tenants dating back to April 2020 in exchange for forgiving the remaining 20% of unpaid rent.
Landlords will be able to apply until June 18, and applications will be reviewed as they come in, according to the state agency.
Oregon lawmakers created the fund in December as part of legislation that extended the state’s eviction moratorium through June for renters who declared they were experiencing financial hardship. Lawmakers have since passed legislation that will give renters until February 2022 to repay their past-due rent.
However, landlords only recently began receiving checks through the Landlord Compensation Fund, which was hampered by technical issues early on. Problems with the online application portal led to major processing delays during the first round of funding in February and caused the state to delay the program’s second and third rounds of funding.
Still, the state ultimately approved nearly $33 million in assistance through its first round of funding to cover the unpaid rent of nearly 12,000 households
Oregon had planned to make another $70 million available during the second round of funding, but received applications from 3,200 landlords requesting only about $40 million in assistance. Those applications are currently being processed.
However, the leftover funding from the second round might not indicate a lack of need.
Some landlords have opted not to apply for funding through the program because they will be forced to forgive 20% of unpaid rent. Tenants are also required to submit a Declaration of Financial Hardship with the application for their landlords to receive funding, a bureaucratic hurdle that some landlords say have prevented them from applying for assistance.
Unlike in previous rounds of the program, landlords will be allowed to apply for funds to cover the unpaid rent of former tenants, as well as current tenants, during the final round of funding through the Landlord Compensation Fund.
However, they will still be required to provide a letter of hardship from their tenants.
The state plans to make at least $60 million available in the final round of funding, although that number could go up after it finishes processing applications from the second round. Landlords can apply for relief to cover missed rent accrued from April 1, 2020, through the end of June 2021.
Oregon Housing and Community Services has until the end of the biennium on June 30 to award the entire $150 million allocated by lawmakers.
The agency appears to be in danger of forfeiting leftover funds even as renters across the state continue to struggle to keep up with their payments. The most recent rental survey conducted by Multifamily NW, a rental industry group who represents landlords and property managers, found more than 13% of tenants statewide had not paid their rent by mid-May.