In the month of November alone 2,141 eviction proceedings were filed in Oregon courts, according to PSU research. 16,788 were filed since the start of 2022. A new pilot program hopes to prevent at least some of those from ending in forced removal.
“If people are creative and want to talk about it, there are lots of solutions that aren’t textbook or check the box,” said Heather Wright, executive director of Neighbor to Neighbor, a nonprofit that received funding to run a pilot mediation program for renters and landlords.
The program was funded through a portion of the $1 million of federal pandemic assistance that Oregon lawmakers put aside in 2021 toward eviction prevention. The funds went primarily toward rental assistance, but portions were also distributed toward legal aid services, research projects and a mediation pilot program.
“The work that we have seen so far is that mediation paired with rental assistance is a really important eviction prevention strategy,” said Mike Savara interim chief programs officer of the Oregon Housing and Community Services. It is the state’s housing authority, and the agency tasked with distributing the funds.
The pilot program will run for one year in five different locations throughout Oregon. Neighbor to Neighbor, one of the programs based in Salem, serves Marion, Linn and Benton counties. The programs partner with rental assistance agencies so that renters can get help and landlords can get paid.
“A landlord can need that rent being paid and have that conversation with the mediator to really help think about what the solutions are so that everybody walks away feeling like they got what they needed out of the conversation,” Savara said.
Wright said the program has a good success rate — while hard data is not yet available — she said so far they are seeing an approximately 75% success rate in cases where they manage to get all parties to the table.
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