Some Salem renters got a notice on their door advising them the eviction moratorium came to an end on June 30, 2021. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

St. Francis Shelter kept getting calls from people needing help paying their rent as a statewide eviction moratorium was ending on June 30.

Jill Tucker, the shelter’s operations manager, said they don’t normally aid in rent relief. The shelter offers transitional housing to help families move out of homelessness.

But she didn’t want to tell people St. Francis couldn’t help them.

“We kept getting more and more phone calls where we really just were not able to help folks. Then we got a call from the city (of Salem) who asked us if we would be interested in taking on this type of programming,” she said.

Now, with federal CARES Act money for Covid relief the shelter will be able to distribute $200,000 to help people pay off past due rent. Tucker said they expect to help 30 to 40 families.

The shelter is one of five groups that will be awarded money through the city’s Community Development Block Grant program, pending approval from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Northwest Human Services will be awarded $100,000 in funding for rental assistance, as well as utility and mortgage help.

Island Boy Camp will be awarded $136,000 for emergency rental assistance. Salvation Army of Marion and Polk counties will be awarded $197,474 for case management and rental assistance.

The Marion Polk Early Learning Hub will receive $200,000 to help daycares stay open, provide equipment to existing child care businesses or provide support for child care operations to reopen to serve low to moderate income families, according to a presentation from Tiffany Ottis, federal programs manager, to the Salem City Council Monday evening.

J.D. Health and Wellness will be awarded $52,000 to provide physical and mental health services for people experiencing homelessness at the Union Gospel Mission.  

Millions of dollars are flowing through the Salem area to help renters who have been unable to pay rent during the pandemic. A statewide eviction moratorium expired on June 30. Renters who have sought assistance have a 60-day grace period, but the clock is ticking to pay rent or face eviction.

A June analysis showed Marion County renters owe nearly $13 million in back rent.

Tenants have until Feb. 28, 2022 to repay any rent accrued between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

Tucker said the shelter hopes to help renters pay off any past due rent before the 2022 deadline.

She said the shelter hopes to start spending the money by Oct. 1 pending approval from HUD and a contract with the city.

With multiple different organizations and agencies doling out assistance, she said they will be able to reach more communities especially those which are underserved.

“The city of Salem and all of the agencies are doing our best to make this as wide as possible, as inclusive as possible and as equitable as possible so we can reach as many people as we can,” she said.

Oregon Housing and Community Services, has an online portal for people to apply for rental assistance statewide. Applicants need to prove they’ve been impacted by the coronavirus, either through lost income or illness, and must be making 80% of the area’s median income or below.

Related coverage: Millions in rental assistance coming available after moratorium ended this week

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]

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