Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East advocates at the local, state, and federal levels to protect and expand policies and resources for affordable housing and thriving communities.
Considering the recent public health emergency facing our community, we are seeing that—now, more than ever—safe and affordable homes are critical to keeping our community healthy. As an organization, we are strongly urging our supporters to do whatever you can to help us secure housing for those being impacted by this pandemic. We applaud recent efforts being taken by city, county, and state officials to combat the health and economic impacts of this pandemic. We are encouraged by the recent passage of the CARES Act by the U.S. Congress and are actively engaging with legislators to ensure that any future legislation addresses the needs of individuals with low incomes who will be hit the hardest during this pandemic.
For most people living on low incomes, the first thing to be threatened in an emergency is the very place they call home. In Oregon especially, this is due to the extraordinarily high costs of housing, where 1 in 6 households spend more than half of their incomes to put a roof over their heads. These are the immediate actions we are advocating for in order to protect the most vulnerable people impacted by this crisis:
We are asking City leaders for:
- A 90-day moratorium on evictions, suspension of mortgage payments, and foreclosures for anyone who is financially impacted by COVID-19, and a residential and commercial rent freeze.
- An Emergency Household Stabilization Fund to support low-income households being affected by the COVID Pandemic. The fund will go live on April 27th and will help cover urgent needs like groceries, rent, utilities, and medical expenses.
- A policy that utilizes vacant units and community spaces to provide emergency shelter. City and county leaders opened up the following buildings to allow for homeless individuals to have a safe space during this crisis: Charles Jordan Community Center, the Oregon Convention Center, East Portland Community Center, Mt. Scott Community Center, and the Jupiter Hotel.
We are asking the Metro Regional Government to:
- Dedicate emergency funding to non-profits to support tri-county efforts that aim to blunt the regional economic effects for low-income earners.
- Move forward in supporting the upcoming ballot measure to support homeless services in the Portland-Metro Area. Election Day will be held on May 19th, 2020 and the last day to register to vote will be on April 28th.
We are asking State officials for:
- A moratorium on the suspension or disruption of services of gas, power, water, and internet to all Oregonians. Additionally, we hope that the state will take action and force companies to waive late-fees to support residents dealing with the economic impacts of COVID-19.
- An expansion of the OHSI assistance program or an independent creation of emergency in-state funding for mortgage assistance to people with low incomes that would not require the homeowners to be delinquent in order to initiate support.
- Expand the state’s support of small businesses and allow non-profits to access any available state funding or loans to continue operations and payroll during the pandemic.
We are asking federal legislators to:
- Long-term funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, SBA initiatives, as well as funding for hospitals and testing.
- To maintain cash flow for homeownership providers, the government should deliver no-cost capital to bona-fide nonprofit entities, such as Habitat for Humanity, to enable extended mortgage payment forbearance for low-income homeowners impacted by COVID-19. “Bona-fide nonprofit organizations” could be defined using the criteria established in the SAFE ACT Final Rule from HUD.
- Create a $35 Billion Housing Assistance Fund, or similar vehicle, to boost foreclosure prevention efforts in all 50 states to help homeowners get caught up on missed mortgage payments after forbearance, and to increase access to other proven solutions like housing counseling.
- Provide an immediate infusion of $60 billion in capital for nonprofits to maintain operations and expand scope to address increasing demands, and stabilize losses from closures throughout the country.
- Ensure all nonprofits have access to the SBA loans created in the recently passed CARES Act, and removing the 500-person cap, so that all charities are eligible for these critical, business interruption loans.
- Offer another round of short-term basic income supplement to directly support housing expenses and other basic necessities for low-to-moderate income individuals and families affected by the public health emergency.
- Extend a universal charitable deduction for additional years and increasing the maximum deduction up to $2,000.
- Provide additional funding for housing and service programs, and allow significant flexibility to expedite their use. There should be additional funding for the following programs:
- Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP): $15 million
- Section 4 Capacity Building Program: $40 million
- HOME Investment Partnership Program: $10 billion
- USDA 502 Direct Loan Program: $1 billion
- Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS): $500 million
- Temporarily suspend the sweat equity hours requirement for HUD’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) for up to 90-days.
- Broaden mortgage forbearance and foreclosure suspensions to all single-family homes and 2-4 unit properties with federally-regulated mortgages, and tie mortgage forbearance to rent forbearance for tenants.
- Expand eviction protections for renters by broadening short-term eviction moratoria and increasing rental assistance for low-income renters struggling to pay rent and utility payments during this crisis. Millions of renters are currently unprotected from prohibitions on renter evictions stipulated in CARES ACT because they live in properties that do not have mortgages backed by the federal government. The eviction protections in the CARES Act should be broadened.
How you can help
It is important that we continue to engage with leaders at all levels of government to ensure that their responses to COVID-19 include protections and support for families impacted by this crisis. Your support today will help us ensure protections for the most vulnerable populations in our city. Please donate now to see that these actions are implemented for our neighbors in need.