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Social Policy LR - October 1, 2021

Immigration - Claudia Keith

Immigration: This recent 9/26 ‘Effort could create a path to citizenship for undocumented Oregon farmworkers’, Statesman Journal news article highlights congressional possible path to citizenship status for Oregon undocumented farmworkers ‘ “…Because of these failed efforts, advocates and congressional Democrats are trying to create paths to citizenship through reconciliation, a budgetary process that makes it easier for legislation to pass in the Senate…”

Refugee: Oregon is one of 35 states proactively welcoming Afghan refugees. The Governor was very clear in August. ’Governor Kate Brown Issues Statement on Welcoming Afghan Refugees ‘ ’Oregon stands ready to help the federal government resettle Afghan refugee families’. “Oregon lawmakers call for the US to allow more Afghan refugees into the state, Sen. Kayse Jama and Rep. Khanh Pham say Oregon is well-poised to help those fleeing Afghanistan as the Taliban takes over.’

Reports of hate crimes in Oregon rose from 170 incidents in 2019 to 271 incidents in 2020. Law enforcement agencies in Oregon documented a 59% increase in reported hate crimes last year, according to data the FBI collected from law enforcement agencies across the state. The number of victims climbed to roughly 360 last year, from approximately 242 in 2019. Because of the way the FBI collects the data, a small number of victims can be counted more than once if the perpetrator committed the crime because they perceived the victim to be part of multiple protected classes.

Nationally, hate crimes reports rose to their highest levels in more than a decade. “They reflect likely both an increase in reporting as well as an increase incidents,” said Kiran Ramsey, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Portland field office….”

Youth at Risk: This Brookings report highlights Oregon and 2 other states choosing not to report on a Youth Risk Behavior Survey. DATA ON TRANSGENDER STUDENTS FROM THE YRBS

“We explored data from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The CDC, in partnership with states and school districts, has administered the YRBS and related surveys since the early 1990s to monitor the health and well-being of U.S. high school students in most states.” (Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington did not participate in 2019.)

Gun Safety - Marge Easley

Gun safety supporters breathed a sigh of relief when petitioners for IP 301, a referendum to repeal SB 554, failed to gather sufficient signatures by the deadline of September 24, thus allowing the law to go into effect on September 25. The law requires firearms to be securely stored when not in use, prohibits firearms at the State Capitol and PDX, and allows schools and universities to prohibit firearms.

Housing - Nancy Donovan

The most pressing problem facing Oregon renters is the potential for mass evictions. These will leave many families and individuals without a safe and stable place to live and exacerbate Oregon’s homelessness problem. Up until recently, tenants were protected by eviction moratoria but those have expired. The statewide moratorium ended on June 30. The Oregon legislature provided a safe harbor under SB 278. Tenants who submit an application for rent assistance to an agency serving their community are protected from receiving a termination notice for non-payment of rent or eviction proceedings for 90 days in Multnomah County or 60 days in the rest of the state.

The federal government allocated $204 million to Oregon for the rent assistance program. Unfortunately, social service agencies throughout the state have been slow to process assistance applications due to complicated requirements, lack of staff, and software issues.

Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) recently contracted with a new vendor, Public Partnerships LLC, to help process rental assistance applications. OHCS Director Margaret Salazar is encouraging community agencies to focus on outreach to renters so they are aware the assistance is available while the new vendor handles the processing.

Other states are experiencing similar challenges. Beginning on Sept. 30, the U.S. Department of Treasury can start to reclaim unused funds from states unable to distribute the resources. The OHCS Dashboard provides up-to-date information on the status of applications in process.

Oregonians facing eviction can find out if they’re eligible for emergency rent assistance by visiting the state’s website or dialing 211 to speak with someone about what options are available.

Homeowners will benefit from the foreclosure moratorium extension ordered by Governor Brown, giving homeowners until December 31, 2021 to work with their lenders to evaluate viable reinstatement and loss mitigation options, outlined in HB 2009.

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