Housing Oregon has been advocating for a moratorium this past week

Over the past two days in response to the COVID-19 crisis, Governor Kate Brown has ordered both a statewide moratorium on evictions as well as shelter in place executive orders. Affordable housing providers have been watching these actions closely and are assessing how they each will affect both residents and their operations.

Housing Oregon’s board of directors approved a statement March 16 urging a moratorium on evictions and waiving of late fees last Monday, March 16. We applaud the Governor for taking these steps to help ensure the health and safety of both residents and employees.


Moratorium on Residential Evictions for Nonpayment of Rent

Executive Order 20-11 went into effect on Sunday, March 22, and remains in effect for 90 days unless extended or terminated earlier by the Governor. Essentially law enforcement officers are prohibited from acting on terminations of tenancy that relates to residential evictions for nonpayment of rent or fees.

This has been a key concern of Housing Oregon members many of which had already implemented their own voluntary moratoriums on evictions. Individuals and families experiencing the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis should not have to worry about the stability of their housing or mounting debt during this public health emergency. A poll of our members last week found about 80% of respondents had already taken such steps.

A concern of Housing Oregon members has been how to address threats or acts of violence against tenants such as domestic violence, which would typically result in evictions. The order refers to ORS chapter 105.105 through 105.168 for guidance on exemptions for causes other than nonpayment.

While the executive order does not address documentation, housing providers should ask for tenants to provide supplemental information to demonstrate that they cannot pay rent due to the financial impacts of COVID-19 such as loss of work or illness without sick pay.

Housing Oregon will continue to work with Oregon Housing Alliance and national organizations advocating for State and Federal action to provide emergency rental assistance for low-income households affected by the crisis. Housing providers are encouraged to communicate with residents rent will still be due at a later point in time.


Shelter in Place order – Stay Home, Save Lives

Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-12 orders Oregonians to stay at home expanding the list of businesses ordered closed and further social distancing measures. Since this order is only a few hours old, we’re still assessing the impact of the order on affordable housing providers and residents.

For residents

The key take-away is to maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any person who is not a member of their immediate household.

Non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals outside of a home or place of residence are prohibited immediately. This includes parties, celebrations, or similar gatherings and events, regardless of size if a distance of six feet between individuals cannot be maintained.

Individuals may go outside for recreational activities, such as walking, running and hiking, as long as there is no contact with others and distancing of six feet.

A long list of businesses is added to previous closure orders, which included bars and restaurants. The new orders include barber shops and hair salons, gyms and fitness studios, shopping malls, senior activity centers, and youth clubs, to name a few.

The order does not apply to food stores providing take-out or delivery, grocery, health care, medical, pharmacy or pet service stores.

For housing provider organizations

All businesses and nonprofit organizations with offices shall facilitate telework and work-at-home by employees, to the maximum extent possible. Organizations are to designate an officer to establish, implement, and enforce these workplace policies consistent with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority. I suggest their guidance for employers.

The order does not directly close construction sites. Based on reports, employers are to practice social distancing keeping construction workers six feet apart as practical. This was a key concern of Housing Oregon members hoping to replicate exemptions in California to ensure the continued production of affordable housing.

As reported in the Oregonian, the order doesn’t directly address the homeless and shelters. The governor’s office is looking to counties and local agencies to provide appropriate guidance for those needs.