Property & Mortgages

Portland officials call for waiving rent, mortgage payments amid Covid-19 pandemic


City leaders in the U.S. state of Portland say eviction moratoriums won’t be enough to prevent people from losing their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, unless rent and mortgage payments are dismissed

Portland (U.S.) city leaders say eviction moratoriums won’t be enough to prevent people from losing their homes amid the coronavirus pandemic, unless rent and mortgage payments are dismissed.

A letter signed Wednesday by Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioners Chloe Eudaly, Amanda Fritz and Jo Ann Hardesty calls on state and federal elected officials Wednesday to waive payments for those “substantially impacted by COVID-19” so renters, homeowners and business owners don’t accrue insurmountable debt while deferring their rent or mortgage payments.

Individuals and businesses whose income or expenses have been substantially impacted by COVID-19 need forgiveness of all residential and commercial rent and mortgage payments for the duration of this emergency, said the letter, which was drafted by Commissioner’s Eudaly’s office.

Half of Portland residents are renters, the letter said, and the average low-income household spends more than a third of their income on rent. City officials also noted that thousands of Portland residents who have lost their jobs also lost health insurance, so they now face even more expenses.

Homeowners will likely continue to accrue fees, interest and penalties along with deferred mortgage payments and, “many lenders are not offering reasonable repayment plans,” the letter said.

The letter acknowledged relief grants, loans and statewide eviction moratoriums for residential and commercial renters. Several local jurisdictions, such as Multnomah County, Gresham and Hillsboro, also have enacted moratoriums that temporarily prevent landlords from evicting tenants. But Portland leaders argued all that assistance likely won’t be enough to keep people employed and businesses open.

Gov. Kate Brown’s press secretary, Charles Boyle, responded to the letter by noting the residential and commercial tenant eviction moratoriums Brown has instituted and said that the federal coronavirus relief bill, known as the CARES Act, will soon provide needed statewide aid.

We are still analysing the impacts of that federal package as we weigh what further actions can be taken at the state and federal level to help Oregonian families and businesses, Boyle said in a statement. Governor Brown appreciates local officials bringing their perspectives to the table, and welcomes their input on how their ideas can be implemented.

The letter comes as rent is due for many people who’ve lost their jobs due to coronavirus.

Renters have to inform their landlords by Wednesday that they’ll be unable to pay for April and provide documented proof, such as a letter from an employer that they were laid off due to coronavirus or a doctor recommending hospitalization or self-quarantining due to the virus.

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