Tenants struggle to pay rent amid pandemic

The first of the month on Friday marked rent day for many Oregon residents, and many are worried about their ability to keep paying their bills as financial pressures mount during the pandemic.

Posted: May 1, 2020 6:35 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The first of the month on Friday marked rent day for many Oregon residents, and many are worried about their ability to keep paying their bills as financial pressures mount during the pandemic.

Gov. Kate Brown's moratorium on evictions, termination notices and late fees will continue through June 30, but many are worried about what comes after. 

"I went a week hourless, and so I'm very behind on rent and very behind on my bills at the moment," said Eugene renter Isobelle Jensen. "Uncertainty really puts you at risk and none of the debt is stopping for anyone in particular and it's becoming a challenge."

According to the Springfield Eugene Tenant Association, the call volume on their hotline has doubled since the pandemic began. They've found that workers who are most likely to be unemployed right now are also most likely to be renters. 

"So those people could be sent into crippling debt on July 1. They could have several thousand dollars they could never pay back sent to collections."

Legal Aid Services of Oregon recommends that people who can't make rent pay what they can and contact their landlords about their situation.

Masaka Properties managing partner David Loveall agrees. His company owns and manages several buildings on Springfield's Main Street. He said he's been in communication with commercial and residential tenants about setting up payment plans if they are unable to pay their full balances.

"Owners don't like vacancies, so the best thing you can do is communicate what you can do. Maybe follow up with a letter with a payment saying, 'This is what I plan to do,' and then when you get your stimulus checks and those things, follow up and do what you say," said Loveall.

The Oregon Legislative Emergency Board also allocated $8.5 million in rental assistance funds statewide. Officials said it's still a few days away from being ready but will be available through local housing agencies.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 10230

Reported Deaths: 215
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