Gov. Kate Brown has extended a temporary halt to residential foreclosures through the end of December.

Monday was the deadline under a law passed by the Legislature for Brown to announce the second of two extensions. She had already announced the first extension, which is in effect through Sept. 30 — the same day that the federal moratorium ends.

Housing

Oregon has extended a residential foreclosure moratorium.

Brown said in a statement announcing the second extension: “As we continue to see record high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations driven by the delta surge, I am committed to ensuring that Oregonians have a warm, dry, safe place to live during this pandemic.

“Extending the temporary residential foreclosure moratorium another three months will prevent removal of Oregonians from their homes by foreclosure, which would result in serious health, safety, welfare and financial consequences, and which would undermine key efforts to prevent spread of COVID-19.”

People behind in their mortgage payments and facing foreclosure are advised to meet with housing counselors in their communities. They also will have access to $90 million in a homeownership assistance fund, which is in its first stages. The Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services awaits guidance from the U.S. Treasury about the fund, which should be ready in the fall.

About 70% of Oregon mortgages are federally backed, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates mortgages. Its moratorium was scheduled to end June 30, but it was extended to July 31, and now, it’s to Sept. 30.

Unlike the original state moratorium, which applied to all properties, House Bill 2009 passed by the Legislature applies only to a total of five residential properties per owner. Each property can contain no more than four units. Commercial property is excluded.

Foreclosures are separate from evictions of tenants, who still can seek rental assistance from the state housing agency and community action agencies. Under that program as of Aug. 11, 26,925 applications have been filed requesting $195 million; 2,797 have been approved for a total of $17 million. The state agency dashboard reported almost 10,000 more applications have not been completed.

The Legislature passed a separate bill — Senate Bill 278 — that bars evictions from being initiated for 60 days if tenants show proof they have applied for rental assistance. That aid started with $200 million in state funds, but the federal government boosted it by more than $200 million after Congress passed President Joe Biden’s pandemic recovery plan.

Multnomah County has a separate ordinance setting a 90-day period.

State housing officials said earlier this month they have contracted with an outside vendor, Public Partnerships LLC, based in Boston, to work on reducing the huge backlog of applications from Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. They account for almost 60% of total applications statewide.

Under a different law — Senate Bill 282 — tenants have until Feb. 28, 2022, to pay past-due rent from April 1, 2020, through June of this year without fear of eviction.

Neither state bill forgives any rent.

The Oregon Capital Bureau is a collaboration between EO Media Group and Pamplin Media Group.