Special Session Update

Last week, the Oregon Legislature met in a special session to address both police accountability and emergency COVID needs. They accomplished a significant amount in a few short days, and there is more to do. This update includes information on the housing actions that they took during the special session.

A huge thank you to everyone who wrote or called to their Legislators, submitted testimony, or who waited on the phone to provide phone testimony. Your help was critical to making sure the Legislature addressed evictions and foreclosures. Thank you.

Special Session: June 24-26, 2020

The Legislature convened officially on June 24 to address emergency COVID needs and police accountability. They began with two days of Committee hearings, one on emergency COVID needs and one on police accountability. Once they officially convened in the Capitol, only Legislators and key staff were allowed in the Capitol, and there were strict rules about physical distancing, wearing masks, and safety.

Eviction Moratorium & Repayment Period: HB 4213

HB 4213 passed the House of Representatives 43-14 and the Senate 19-8. The bill will support people who rent their homes by creating a statutory eviction moratorium. Without this bill, the Governor’s Executive Order 20-13, which created an eviction moratorium, is set to expire today, June 30, 2020. The bill:

  • Addresses both residential and commercial evictions;
  • Enacts a statewide moratorium on the giving of an eviction notice and the filing of evictions for non-payment of rent and no cause evictions until September 30, 2020;
  • Creates a requirement for landlords to give tenants six months to repay any rent that was missed during the emergency moratorium. The repayment period will run from October 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021;
  • Prohibits landlords from reporting late rent payments during the emergency moratorium to credit reporting bureaus;
  • The bill does allow landlords to notify tenants that they are still liable for any back rent owed during the moratorium;
  • The bill also allows landlords to request that tenants notify them of their intent to use the repayment period. This provision requires landlords to send a specific notice to tenants, notifying them of their rights under the repayment period, and requesting a response as to whether the tenant intends to repay back rent within 14 days;
  • Finally, the moratorium is extended for no-cause evictions and the landlord based eviction causes under SB 608 with one exception. If a landlord has sold a home to someone who intends to live in the home as their primary residence, this type of landlord eviction is now allowed to move forward under HB 4213, having been previously prohibited under the Governor’s Executive Order. A tenant must still receive 90 days notice, and if the landlord owns more than 4 units, the tenant is also eligible for relocation assistance.

We have more work to do to ensure people can stay in their homes and will be able to access rent assistance or other supports so that people don’t experience either crushing debt or homelessness at the end of the eviction moratorium. Questions? Email us.

If you rent your home and need help paying your rent, you can call 211 Info, or contact your local Community Action agency.

Foreclosure Moratorium & Forbearance: HB 4204

HB 4204 passed the House (39-18) and the Senate (19-8). The bill will support homeowners who are impacted by COVID by creating a statewide foreclosure moratorium and options for forbearance. Without this bill, the federal foreclosure moratorium, which has prevented the filing of foreclosures for homeowners with federally backed mortgages, was set to expire tomorrow, June 30. The bill:

  • Addresses both commercial and residential foreclosures;
  • Temporarily halts foreclosures for non-payment until September 30, 2020 (The bill does not impact county tax foreclosures);
  • Creates a floor of protection for homeowners for repayment options. Homeowners must have the opportunity to roll any missed payments to the end of their loan period.
  • Homeowners with federal mortgages have more extensive protections for forbearance that will be available until December 31, 2020 under the CARES Act.

If you are a homeowner, and need help talking through your options, you can get in touch with a local Homeownership Center in your community.

Changes to the Oregon IDA Initiative: HB 4212

HB 4212 is an omnibus bill to address several COVID related concerns. HB 4212 included in Section 36 several provisions to support Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative savers to be able to access their savings, without penalties, to meet emergency needs during the pandemic.

Emergency Shelter Siting: HB 4212

HB 4212 is an omnibus bill to address several COVID related concerns. HB 4212 included in Sections 9-17 the flexibility around siting shelters for people experiencing homelessness that were considered through HB 4001 in 2020. These provisions are temporary, and the removal of barriers to site the shelter will only be in effect for 90 days, although the shelter could be in place for significantly longer. The provisions remove barriers to siting shelters for people experiencing homelessness, and allow for temporary car camping in church parking lots.

Ending the Debt Based Suspension of Drivers Licenses: HB 4210

As part of the police accountability provisions of the special session, the Legislature took up a bill that did not pass in 2020 due to the early end and walk out. The bill, HB 4210, ends the practice of suspending people’s drivers licenses if they are unable to pay fines and fees. We know that Black people and people of color are more likely to experience a suspension of licenses due to overpolicing and disparities in being stopped by police more often than white people, and that this policy of suspending licenses because of debt has significant negative consequences for people with low incomes.  Thank you to the Oregon Law Center for their dedication in continuing to bring this bill forward. This policy change will have positive impacts on people with low incomes!

What’s next?

We anticipate the Legislature will convene again later this summer, in late July or early August, to address the budget shortfall that the State is experiencing.  Stay tuned for this special session, which will likely happen later this summer.