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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 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 passage of the CARES Act by the U.S. Congress and are actively engaging with legislators to ensure that 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:

City of Portland:

  • Has formally voted to approve a strong Residential Infill Plan (RIP) allowing for greater housing density in Portland neighborhoods.
  • Of the anticipated $114M in federal funding Portland expects to disperse from the CARES Act, there should be a commitment to fund homeownership preservation programs so that we don’t see another massive drop in homeownership rates (as in the 2008-09 financial crisis), particularly for people of color.
  • Until October 1st, 2020 the City should extend the moratorium on evictions, suspension of mortgage payments, and foreclosures for anyone who is financially impacted by COVID-19, along with a residential and commercial rent freeze.
  • A renewed phase of the Emergency Household Stabilization Fund to support low-income households being affected by the COVID Pandemic.

Metro Regional Government:

  • Dedicate strategic funding to non-profits to support tri-county efforts that aim to blunt the COVID-19 regional economic impact on low-income earners.  

State of Oregon:

  • Until October 1st, 2020 the state should issue 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.  
  • Legislature’s Joint Emergency Board has approve a bold plan that funds statewide housing stabilization programs, including the Emergency Housing Assistance, State Homeless Assistance programs, and funding for affordable housing preservation, multifamily housing development, and foreclosure prevention counseling services.  
  • Additionally, $50 million in bonding was approved to provide affordable housing for low income and historically underserved communities and communities of color, through the Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) Housing Program. 

Federal Government:

  • Establish the Homeowner Assistance Fund 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. There is current legislation in both S. 3620 and H.R. 6729. 
  • Provide critical support to nonprofit organizations by:  
    • Creating a program to support nonprofits in scaling services and helping those currently unemployed get back to work, as outlined in S. 3747. 
    • Requiring Treasury to provide loans and loan guarantees to large nonprofits and to create a mechanism for loan forgiveness, as outlined in the Help Charities Protect Communities Act. 
    • Extending a universal charitable deduction for additional years and increasing the maximum deduction up to $2,000. 
  • Provide 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. 
  • Temporarily suspend the sweat equity hours requirement for HUD’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP). 
  • 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

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.

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