Latest Update from Salem: 12/11/2020

Posted By: Molly McGrew Central Oregon, Industry News, Mid-Willamette Valley, Portland/SW Washington, SWV News,

Multifamily NW Thoughts from The Lobby

I recently provided an update to the Board of Multifamily regarding the current conversations about a special session this month. This would be the third special session this year and out of all of them, by far the most contentious and political despite the potential for being economically successful.

Here’s the dynamic in play: last month, the Speaker and Governor have been quoted in the local paper calling for a special session, to address the extension of the eviction and mortgage moratorium due to expire at the end of the year, along with a few other important issues. The Governor has the power to extend the moratorium through Executive Orders but is asking that the Legislature to take the lead.

The House Democrats are proposing to extend the eviction moratorium until June 30, 2021; in order to keep kids, whose families are at risk of eviction, due to nonpayment of rent, zooming from home. In the midst of these proposals is the reality that only the House Democrats drafted bills for a third session- ignoring the Senate Democrats. Did I mention that the next session will be virtual? I’m talking hours of zoom committee hearings 5 days a week!

The most perplexing is that the Speaker, who claims to be a housing advocate, only wants to $100M in assistance for housing providers/tenants. Under a bill drafted for the third session, LC18, would only allow housing providers to apply for a grant if they forgave 20% of lost rental income. The idea being that housing providers should be thrilled to get something instead of nothing- ouch. We’ve opposed LC 18 because the $100M is way too small an amount to make housing providers whole, and we’ve learned from earlier this year, that any extension turned into leveraging housing providers who only saw a drip-drip-drip of rental assistance after months of nonpayment.

In the most recent negotiations is a tax credit proposal for lost rental income. That proposal is championed by Senator Johnson and would not require the state to come up with the money to pay housing providers, and by allowing housing providers to use the lost rental income against their tax liabilities, would allow the state to avoid a takings case from housing providers. The problem with this proposal is that it needs to include smaller housing providers who rely on rental income, a change we are supporting. For now, it appears that we’ll have a special session sometime around December 21st and with some kind of a blended arrangement between Senator Johnson’s bill, the inclusion of housing providers who rely on rental income, a sizeable amount of rental assistance and some kind of extension of the eviction moratorium.

However, it’s 2020, so literally anything can happen. Stay tuned!