This week the Ways and Means General Government Subcommittee
restored funding to two programs sponsored by the Department
of Revenue that provide rent payment assistance to low
income elderly Oregonians. Both programs had previously been
eliminated in Governor Kitzhaberís Recommended Budget. The
combined programs provide critical funding for rent
assistance payments for more than five thousand elderly
Working closely with committee co-chairs Representative Bill
Garrard, Senator Betsy Johnson (a Democrat from Scappoose),
Representative Nancy Nathanson (a Democrat from Eugene) and
the other subcommittee members, we were able to restore
nearly $6 million for statewide elderly rent relief. More
than $700,000 of that funding will restore services for
senior residents who live in the counties that comprise
The Elderly Rental Assistance Program provides about $400 in
average annual rent assistance payments to nearly 3,000 of
Oregonís most vulnerable citizens. To be eligible
participants must be at least 58 years of age and have
annual household incomes less than $10,000. Eligibility for
assistance further requires that they pay more than 20% of
their household income for rent, fuel and utilities. If they
are under 65 years of age they must have total assets valued
at no more than $25,000 to be eligible for assistance.
Two hundred forty four of our most financially vulnerable
elderly citizens who reside in the five counties located in
Senate District 28 will receive a total of more than
$150,000 during the next budget period as the result of
restoring this program. That approximately fifty dollars per
month rental assistance is very important to senior whose
entire monthly income is less than $800 per month.
The Non-profit Homes for the Elderly Program provides
property tax exemptions to private, non-profit corporations
that provide permanent housing and care to elderly persons.
Eligibility requires residents of the homes to be at least
62 years old and to have annual household incomes less than
about $20,000 per couple. The tax exemption is claimed by
the non-profit residence facility. In turn, the residents
receive the value of the tax exemption in the form of a
credit against their rent.
Ten non-profit residential homes provide about 400 rental
units for low income seniors living in the five Senate
District 28 counties. This program provides nearly $550,000
in rent relief for those senior residents during the two
year budget period. On average the assistance for each
rental unit is about $60 per month.
Our Ways and Means subcommittee withheld approval of the
Department of Revenue budget for several weeks in our
attempt to restore the eliminated funding. In the end, our
bipartisan effort succeeded and the critical services to
low-income seniors was restored.
Please remember, if we do not stand up for rural
Oregon... no one will.