On Friday, June 5, the legislature’s Joint Emergency Board met to make a series of decisions about how to spend money the state has received from the federal government as part of the CARES Act. With many newly unemployed Oregonians struggling to afford their rent or mortgage payments, OAR was pleased to see housing as the first item on the agenda.
The Emergency Board made the following housing-related funding decisions that will help keep Oregonians in their homes and our communities stable during this crisis.
- The Board approved $75 million and two new permanent positions to provide rental assistance to landlords on behalf of Oregonians who have been impacted by income loss (unemployment or underemployment) due to COVID-19, and to provide operating assistance to affordable rental housing projects under contract with Oregon Housing and Community Services Department (HCSD). Of that, $55 million is going directly to rent assistance, and eligible households must be at or below 80 percent of area median income for the county in which they reside.
- Another $15 million was approved to HCSD for energy assistance payments to Oregonians with incomes adversely affected by COVID-19. HCSD will use its existing grant programs to make grants available to local Community Action Agencies throughout the state that operate Low Income Energy Assistance Programs. This will be direct bill-payment assistance on behalf of residential customers of electric and natural gas utilities at or below 80 percent of area median income.
- A total of $20 million will go to the Oregon Business Development Department to restart a program to expand rural broadband capacity. The Department will direct the funds to support the expansion of broadband capacity for schools, businesses, and healthcare providers to assist them in addressing the impacts of the pandemic. This is intended to support online instruction and other school activities as well as the healthcare and business operational changes needed to adapt to the pandemic.
Members interested in learning more about OLIS and how to navigate it are encouraged to contact OAR staff member Kyle Macadam.