With lawmakers returning to the Oregon State Capitol for a special session on Monday, Governor Kate Brown said eviction protections and rental assistance would not be the only topics of discussion.
Following bipartisan conversations with leaders in the Legislative Assembly, Brown Friday outlined additional priorities lawmakers agreed to address, including drought relief, illegal cannabis proliferation, humanitarian impacts and support to the resettlement of Afghan refugees.
“I want to thank lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who have worked with me over the past few days to put in place a suite of policies and investments that address the urgent needs of Oregon residents,” he said. Brown said in a statement.
Perhaps the most pressing problem is that thousands of Oregon households are struggling to pay their rent and face eviction.
More than 67,000 Oregon households recently said they felt “not at all confident” that they would be able to cover next month’s bills, according to the most recent US Census Bureau survey. Despite a huge need, this month the statewide rental assistance program stopped supporting new requests after the $ 289 million in federal funds were requested and committed. for tenants.
“Oregon residents facing eviction don’t have time to wait – they need an immediate solution that keeps them at home. And, over the past year, the people of Oregon have faced unprecedented challenges due to record heat and persistent drought conditions, ”Brown said.
On Friday, Brown said the legislature was proposing $ 215 million to prevent winter evictions and move to long-term eviction prevention services provided locally. Of the proposed funds, $ 100 million would go towards additional emergency rent assistance.
In addition, the proposal would extend a “safe harbor” measure. The law, which the governor signed in June, gives tenants a 60-day period during which they cannot be evicted for default of payment, provided they provide proof that they have requested help. However, currently around 8,355 households are at risk of eviction as the safe harbor protection that keeps them housed has expired as they continue to wait for state aid.
Brown says the proposed safe harbor extension would apply to everyone who applied for rental assistance by June 30, 2022. Instead of the 60-day limit, the protections would remain in place during processing. requests and would not last longer than September 30. , 2022.
In addition to keeping people housed, lawmakers will discuss a $ 100 million proposal to help Oregon residents affected by the extreme heat and drought conditions this summer. The package includes $ 40 million for a disaster relief farm loan program, $ 12 million for the Klamath Basin for domestic well assistance, $ 9.7 million for drought relief on the Klamath Tribal Lands, $ 10 million for agricultural workers absent from work due to unsafe working conditions resulting from extreme heat or smoke and $ 9.75 million for aid to the district of irrigation to offset the costs of water use.
Lawmakers are also considering $ 25 million for a comprehensive state-wide plan to tackle the proliferation of illegal cannabis in the state and mitigate associated humanitarian impacts and $ 18 million to support the resettlement of Afghan refugees. in Oregon.
Cline is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative Corps. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.