FILE — Oregon capitol dome

The Oregon state capitol building in Salem, Oregon 

(The Center Square) – Oregon homeowners will have through the end of 2021 to catch up on their mortgage payments under a new order by Gov. Kate Brown.

The extension is the latest and final extension allowed under legislation the state legislature and Brown gave the green light in June. The foreclosure moratorium Brown put into place during the onset of the pandemic was set to expire on Sep. 30. It now runs through Dec. 31.

"As we continue to see record high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations driven by the Delta surge, I am committed to ensuring that Oregonians have a warm, dry, safe place to live during this pandemic," Brown said. "Extending the temporary residential foreclosure moratorium another three months will prevent removal of Oregonians from their homes by foreclosure, which would result in serious health, safety, welfare, and financial consequences, and which would undermine key efforts to prevent spread of COVID-19." 

Four Oregon banks sued Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services Director Andrew Stolfi over the moratorium last summer in federal court. The lawsuit remains in court.

More than $90 million in federal financial aid has yet to be paid out by the state's Homeownership Assistance Fund. On Monday, the state was waiting on guidance from the U.S. Treasury to disperse funds, which it plans to see through "later this fall." However, Brown said that landlords leasing houses might have time to receive that financial assistance by extending the state's foreclosure moratorium.

The Landlord Compensation Fund, a $150 million relief package, was set up in 2020 to cover the hundreds of millions in back rent across Oregon. A bill passed by the state legislature in June gave tenants whose landlords applied for financial aid a two-month reprieve from evictions. Those protections expire at the end of the month.

The state has been slow to pay out financial housing aid. Last week, the Oregon Housing and Community Services reported that $8 million had been paid out to some 1,300 households statewide. Another $12 million has been approved and is set to be paid out to 2,000 more households. Statewide, around $50 million has been paid out to date. 

According to Andrea Bell, director of Housing Stabilization at the agency, most of the state's more than 25,000 applications are from Multnomah County's Portland metro region. Of those 13,700 applications, 76% remain in the agency's "pending initial review" bracket.

At a news conference last week, Bell said glitches had plagued the agency's online payment system. A third-party contractor is being brought in to help. Multnomah County passed a 90-day eviction reprieve for housing aid applicants that expires in September.

Oregonians can look up a state housing counselor for financial advice here. Those looking for rental relief can call 211 or visit the Oregon Rental Assistance website.