During a special session in Salem on December 13th, Oregon legislators voted to change the law surrounding the rental eviction moratorium to try and further help renters in the state.
“There was a gap endangering tenants between the time that they applied for help and when checks were actually arriving,” said State Rep. Pam Marsh.
For Central Point renter, Nisa Garner, the change of law could’ve helped her pay her rent on time and prevented her eviction.
She says she reached out to the local non-profit organization, Access, who offered to help pay her rent through an assistance program after she lost her job in September.
“They were going to pay 2 months back rent, and then they were going to pay 3 months forward with more possible help and she [landlord] requested a $500 dollar increase on the deposit on her contract, so they asked her for an amended contract. She refused to send it and that’s all she needed to get the check written to her,” said Garner.
However, the mother of one missed her scheduled eviction proceeding on the 15th of December, 2 days after the law was changed. “I went in and filed for a motion of relief from judgment so they could take it back in the court and Judge Gerkings denied it, for which reasons I don’t know.”
Since Garner’s motion was denied, she has no choice but to leave the home she’s rented for the last 6 years.
Representative Marsh says the moratorium and protection space for renters and landlords is a tricky situation, “It’s just heartbreaking that with everything that we’re doing to try to address people in her situation, that’s she’s falling through the cracks.”
Garner says she’s extremely frustrated and doesn’t know what to do.
“I’m putting my stuff in storage and I’m going to be staying with a friend until I can find a rental, which there’s none out there it seems like,” she said.
Rep. Marsh says she understands evictions like this are likely to increase once the moratorium expires on February 28th, but she wants tenants to be aware of resources available to help them.
“We’re trying to put into place some support services like mediation or credit counseling that could help tenants figure out how to re-work their budgets or what to do when their incomes fall short of making that rental payment,” Rep. Marsh explained. She wants people to know if they applied for help, they are protected from eviction until their rental assistance arrives.
She says the state has set a deadline to get checks sent out to people who qualified for assistance by the end of June.