Oregon’s emergency rental assistance funds caught in backlog

PORTLAND, Oregon (KGW) — Nearly 51,000 households have been approved for the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program, but fewer than half have received their money due to a backlog of applications.

Officials said they don’t know when they’ll get through the backlog.

“Any sources of income I had completely went away. At the same time here, I am left with three kids that I need to take care of,” said Musonda Mwango, who rents an apartment in Portland.

When he found out Oregon got $289 million in federal funding to help people pay their rent, he thought there was some hope.

“For most of us that had basically lost just about everything, it became one of those things like, ‘Thank you, God, we get a lifeline here.'”

Mwango said accessing the lifeline has not been easy.

He said it was challenging to fill out the application for the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program. He filed his application in June and was approved in August but still hasn’t received any funds and he doesn’t know when they’ll arrive.

So far more than 22,000 applications have been approved and nearly $150 million has reached renters.

The state is pausing the program for at least six weeks starting Dec. 1. Officials hope the pause will give them the chance to work through the backlog and get renters like Mwango the money they’ve been promised.

He met with Gov. Kate Brown last week to discuss his situation and hopes lawmakers will convene in a special session to look for new ways to help renters struggling with financial hardships due to the pandemic.

Learn more about the emergency rental assistance program online by clicking here. 

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