Wyden, Merkley Urge Feds to Support Oregon Request Helping Homeowners During COVID-19

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today urged the federal Treasury Department to support a request by Oregon officials that could help Oregonians stay in their homes during the COVID-19 crisis.

The senators’ letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin deals with the successful implementation of Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) by Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) after the 2009 financial crisis.

Wyden and Merkley noted that the state’s Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative (OHSI) has helped more than 14,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure through loans, grants and financial counseling since 2011. The state reports the fund still has $25 million in available program funds thanks to responsible use of taxpayer dollars by recycling dollars through sales, repayment and refinancing.

“Treasury’s current wind-down plan for HHFs requires OHCS to return these recycled funds in December of 2020. To meet that deadline, OHSI will have to stop accepting applicants on April 30, 2020,” Wyden and Merkley wrote. “However, allowing OHCS to reopen its Loan Preservation Assistance (LPA) program for at least six months will enable OHSI to use these recycled funds to help Oregon homeowners weather the economic disruption caused by COVID-19.”

“There are hundreds of thousands of Oregonians who will need help getting through these next few months,” the senators wrote Mnuchin, “but your swift approval of this program change request can provide urgently-needed assistance for at least 2,000.”

A copy of the letter is here.

A web version of this release is here.