OP/ED: A Special Session Will Help Landlords, Too

By State Representative David Gomberg
Representative David Gomberg is a Democrat representing District #10, and the people of the Central Coast.

Across my district, most landlords are not big corporations, but retired nurses, teachers, and small business owners who saw a need in their community and invested in housing. Our landlords have faced tremendous financial burdens and struggled to make ends meet throughout the pandemic. I’ve heard from many of my constituents who are housing providers and whose tenants, through no fault of their own, are months behind on rent. This is especially true for small and medium-sized landlords, whose financial well-being and security depends on rent being paid on time.

Currently landlords across Oregon are waiting for their tenants to receive promised rental assistance. But administrative delays in processing these rental assistance applications have put over 10,000 tenants at risk of being evicted. If that happens, over 10,000 Oregonians lose their homes and potentially thousands of landlords lose most hope of recovering any past-due rent.

No one should face eviction for nonpayment simply because the state didn’t get promised payments out on schedule.

As legislators, our commitment to Oregonians is to make sure people are housed while keeping housing providers whole. A special session on December 13 will ensure both tenants and landlords receive the assistance they need.

The proposed solution for the special session includes $200 million for further rental assistance and eviction prevention services, in addition to ensuring the Landlord Guarantee Program covers any unpaid rent owed to a landlord during the safe harbor period. We want to make sure that any solution to this problem supports both tenants and small housing providers.

This builds on the work we did last December, when we allocated $150 million to create the Landlord Compensation Fund to provide relief to residential landlords who have been unable to collect rent due to tenant hardships. A number of my colleagues and I later pushed to update the law so that landlords would receive 100% compensation from the fund for past-due rent.

Evictions have devastating consequences for individuals, families, their employers and their communities. Even a short period of homelessness or housing instability can do generational damage. It would be tragic if Oregonians lose their homes because the money available and intended to help them doesn’t reach them on time.

We now have solutions to help avert a crisis that would leave tens of thousands of Oregonians on the street in the middle of winter during a pandemic. But it is important to add that this proposed legislation does not mean this situation can, or will, last forever. As more Oregonians get vaccinated and more students return to school, we need to get people back to work and paying their own rent.

In the meantime, we have an opportunity to keep people housed and support landlords right now. That’s why it’s critical we show up December 13 and work together to find solutions. I’ll be there for the special session to fulfill our commitment and our promise to Oregon tenants and landlords.