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Regional Interests

Oregon Legislature extends moratorium on foreclosures through June 30

Oregonians struggling to maintain their mortgage payments due to the economic stressors caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will have until June 30 to begin repaying.

The extension of the foreclosure moratorium enacted by the Legislature in a special session last year will help all Oregon homeowners, but it is specifically aimed at providing support to about 25% of homeowners whose mortgages are not insured by one of two federal housing agencies.

House Bill 2009 will go back to the House for a quick concurrence vote before heading to the desk of Gov. Kate Brown following a 19-9 vote Monday. The bill originally cleared the Oregon House in early April on a similar margin of 38-21. The moratorium begins retroactively on Dec. 31, 2020, and is able to be extended if Gov. Brown decides to extend the emergency period for COVID-19 until Sept. 30 at the latest.

According to Sen. Lee Beyer, who carried the bill in his chamber, this extension is aimed at helping those who have been unable to keep up with their mortgage payments through no fault of their own.

“The one difference in this from the original one passed is in order to get this protection, the homeowner has to contact their lender and tell them that they are not able to pay their mortgage because of loss of income related to the pandemic,” Beyer said. “But perhaps the secondary, and maybe more important to many of us, is by having this in place we keep all of those homes that could have been foreclosed on from going onto the market all at one time and devaluing the rest of the properties.”

Sen. Kayse Jama — who chairs the Senate’s committee on housing and development where the bill was workshopped — also rose to speak on behalf of HB 2009-b Monday before it received a vote, explaining that a work group has been poring over the bill since last year’s first special session where the original moratorium was implemented to ensure a robust discussion within the Capitol took place, as well as public engagement process.

Jama pointed out that Eugene Democrats Rep. Paul Holvey and Rep. Julie Fahey helped shape a compromise on HB 2009 that allowed the Northwest Credit Union Association to take a neutral stance on the bill after initially opposing certain provisions that would have allowed businesses owned or controlled by a person who owns multiple properties comprising hundreds of units to claim financial hardship and receive a deferral on their payments.

The bill was changed to reflect suggestions of the Northwest Credit Union Association that limits HB 2009 to individuals or a singular business entity owned by an individual who owns between one and four family dwellings, not commercial properties or apartment complexes, therefore focusing the impact on the individual borrower. The expiration date of the bill’s emergency period was also shifted from September to June to mirror dates set by federal mortgage lenders.

The bill also received the full support of the Oregon Housing Coalition which consists of more than 60 individual nonprofit organizations, cities, counties and other agencies that work on housing adjacent issues. Other organizations supporting the bill included Habitat For Humanity of Oregon, Service Employees International Union Local 503, the Oregon Food Bank and Oregon Consumer Justice Center.

According to a legislative staff report, the U.S. Census Bureau’s March 3 pulse survey showed that approximately 65,000 Oregonians were behind on their mortgage payments. HB 2009 could help around 16,000 homeowners across the state whose mortgages aren’t federally insured.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting