ASHLAND, Ore. — An Ashland-based organization has undertaken distributing $400,000 in state funds for people struggling to pay back rent and those on the verge of losing their housing due to the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Options for Helping Residents of Ashland (OHRA) said that the money came via ACCESS, and is part of Oregon's Supporting Tenants Accessing Rental Relief, which was set aside to help people pay rent, late fees, and back rent incurred after April 1 of 2020. The money can also go toward utility payments, hotel/motel vouchers, and moving costs.
Anyone in need of rental assistance who meets the requirements should contact OHRA's center at 611 Siskiyou Boulevard, Unit 4. They can call OHRA at 541-631-2235 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays to make an appointment.
“Time is of the essence as the funds expire on June 30," said Cass Sinclair, OHRA executive director. "If you meet the criteria and have lost housing or your housing is at risk due to COVID related issues, please contact us . . . An OHRA navigator can help determine eligibility and then assist with the application process.”
Oregon requires that applicants' gross household income be either at or below 80 percent of area median income. Those who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless, are in unstable housing, or are fleeing domestic violence can apply. There is no residency requirement, beyond being a resident of Oregon.
The funding also has requirements specific to the pandemic, at least one of which must apply:
- Loss of employment or income due to COVID-19 or related factors
- Directly impacted by business closures related to COVID-19
- Diagnosed or exposed to COVID-19
- Compromised health status or elevated risk of infection or vulnerability to health issues related to COVID-19
- Incurred significant costs or experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19
"OHRA really values this funding as it will help people move from crisis to stability – which is our key organizational goal,” said Sinclair.
In February, OHRA became the first organization in Oregon to receive a Project Turnkey grant, allowing them to purchase the erstwhile Super 8 motel for conversion into a shelter facility and resource center.