News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Habitat leaders met with representatives

Sisters Habitat for Humanity’s Board President Ellie Hammond and Executive Director Sharlene Weed met virtually with Representative Daniel Bonham and Senator Lynn Findley on Tuesday, March 9, as part of Habitat Oregon’s annual lobby day.

They were joined by Columbia Gorge Habitat for Humanity’s Executive Director Chad Krause, and Habitat for Humanity of Oregon’s Director of Engagement Megan Parrott.

“It is fun to connect with our legislators each year to promote our good work at Habitat and express our support for legislation that we feel will help promote our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live,” Weed said.

More than 40 Habitat advocates from around the state met with their legislators virtually to support policies promoting broader access to safe, decent, and affordable homes. Habitat for Humanity leaders expressed their concern for strengthening household resiliency in Oregon during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as the state faces compounding crises, such as wildfire recovery. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, one in six Oregon households were paying half or more of their income on a place to live. With the situation made even worse by the pandemic, Habitat leaders are asking the state to enact policies and create systems that increase access to affordable homes.

The Habitat group specifically lobbied for the legislators’ support of three bills currently before the Oregon Legislature: House Bill (HB) 2009; HB 2551; and Senate Bill (SB) 282-1.

House Bill 2009 extends the moratorium on all residential mortgage foreclosures through September 1, 2021 and gives the Governor the ability to extend the moratorium through December 31, if needed. In addition, small landlords with up to five qualifying properties would be protected.

HB 2009 also disallows foreclosures during the moratorium period, which under HB 2009 would be retroactive back to January 1, 2021.

Lenders must grant forbearance, and move any missed payments to the end of the loan. To qualify, homeowners will have to attest that they have lost income due to circumstances arising from the pandemic.

Senate Bill (SB) 282-1: After the eviction moratorium ends on June 20, protects against landlord retaliation and manufactured for-cause notices.

House Bill 2551 moves to fully fund the Oregon IDA Initiative. IDAs are matched savings accounts that improve the financial future of Oregonians with lower incomes. In addition to matched savings, IDAs help build hope and stability by providing information about financial systems and coaching that supports savers’ unique financial goals. Critically, 34 percent of Oregonians with IDA savings use this program to help pay for the down payment on their first home purchase.

HB 2551 reauthorizes the IDA Initiative Tax Credit for the next six years, while making several smaller programmatic changes to allow IDA providers to deliver a more equitable and positive saving experience for IDA account holders.

In addition to HB 2551, the IDA Initiative is requesting an appropriation of $7 million to fund the Initiative through the next biennium as more Oregonians seek to participate in this important program.

All of the participants in the day’s discussions felt that it was a positive experience that it was beneficial to Habitat for Humanity’s mission, and helpful to Oregonians struggling to afford housing.


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