By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
Hope you survived the January ice storm in good health. Looking forward to seeing our ORHA delegates next month in beautiful Bandon! You’ll receive information soon on the location and registration. See Office Manager Ben Seamans’ Office Report later in the newsletter.
We’re gearing up for the short legislative session, and our legislative team – Lobbyist Shawn Miller, Legislative Director Jason Miller, and Deputy Legislative Director Ben Seamans – are ready for action. Nothing like the excruciating long session, but the attacks on the largest contingent of small business owners in the state continue unabated. The one bright spot is an additional $65 million in rent assistance that the Governor is carving out to help keep people housed.
Or is it? As an eviction specialist I’ve seen many sad cases over the years where a few months’ rent would have saved a tenancy or allowed a resident to move on without loads of debt hanging over their head, but what I’ve seen happening with the distribution of rent assistance is anything but orderly or fair. For more than two years, I have been helping an owner serve notice, take his renters to court, and then have them get bailed out. These are two able-bodied folks in their 30’s who could work, but don’t seem to want to or they’re choosing to spend their money on things other than rent.
They’ve gotten at least four rounds of rent assistance while others are told there are no more funds left. What’s wrong with this picture? Also, some agencies cover other costs, and some don’t. I’ve had some owners reimbursed for everything, including late fees, NSF fees, utilities and court costs, and others only get rent. Some get rent through that month; others get rent paid ahead with seemingly no rhyme or reason as to the disparity. And I imagine you saw the article about the millions of dollars that have been fraudulently distributed – what a mess. Challenging to remain optimistic…anyway, glad rental owners are getting some money.
Landlords are commonly seen as rich, opportunistic, and greedy, when the truth for most of us is that we scraped and saved and worked full time jobs while trying to build some sort of reasonable retirement for ourselves and something to pass to our children. Most of us did not inherit our rentals. Most of us have 1-4 units. Most of us still work full time. Most of us still have mortgages. Most of us care deeply about our renters’ experience. Not sure how we can change the stereotype, but it takes all of us running our rental businesses ethically and policing our own. I’m also president of the Rental Owners Association of Lane County. Just like ORHA, we have a code of ethics and at Lane we have removed members from our membership rolls for unethical behavior. I hope all our chapters do the same. It only takes a few bad apples to make us all look bad.