Vaccine Booster Shots, Preventing Evictions

Speaker Tina Kotek

Vaccine Booster Shots, Preventing Evictions

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Since my last newsletter, the COVID-19 surge caused by the Delta variant is now on the downslope. Sadly, September was an incredibly deadly month for Oregonians.

But I’m hopeful because case counts and hospitalizations are declining and vaccination rates are up. We’re trending in the right direction. There is still a long way to go, and as this story outlines, these last few months have taken an immense toll on our health care workers.

The latest projections from Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) find that hospitalizations will continue to decline. However, this means we aren’t likely to reach “herd immunity” - the point when roughly 85% of the population becomes immune through vaccination or recent infection - until after the December holidays.

Please continue to be careful, and please have heartfelt discussions with close family and friends who remain unvaccinated. Vaccines are the safest and most effective way to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from the virus. We can get closer to ending this pandemic, but it will still take all of us working together to make it happen.

Vaccine Booster Shots

If you are eligible, it’s an important time to get your booster shot. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is taking up the issue of mixing and matching shots for boosting immunity. So, more information will be coming on boosters.

Right now, vaccine booster shots are currently available for the following groups of people who completed their second shot of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions, including all intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Age 18+ who live or work in high-risk settings, like the following:
    • First responders (e.g., healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
    • Education staff (e.g., teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
    • Food and agriculture workers
    • Manufacturing workers
    • Corrections workers
    • U.S. Postal Service workers
    • Public transit workers
    • Grocery store workers

For individuals who received either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday authorized booster shots for these vaccines. Stay tuned for information on this from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).

Protecting Oregon Renters from Eviction

Last week, I issued a statement calling for a legislative special session to keep Oregonians housed, and organizations around the state are asking for the same. As this gut-wrenching story from The Oregonian outlined, thousands of Oregonians are at risk of eviction due to a backlog of rental assistance applications.

From the start of the pandemic, one of my top goals has been to keep people housed. Collectively, Oregonians saved thousands of lives by staying home in the early days of the pandemic. Thousands lost their jobs, which is why the state put an eviction moratorium in place and allocated hundreds of millions of dollars in rental assistance, in addition to federal funding that the state received from Congress.

We also passed bills to extend the timeline for payment of back rent and to create a 60-day “safe harbor” protection from eviction for those who have applied for rent assistance while their application was being processed. Additionally, the Landlord Guarantee Program was established to help small property owners who have not received payments in a timely fashion. More information on those policies can be found here.

There has been an overwhelming number of rental assistance applications, and urgent action is needed to help Oregonians on the brink of eviction. While our unemployment rate has greatly improved, many went months without work and needed help paying rent. At least 12,000 households are at risk, despite having completed their rental assistance applications. There are an additional 15,000 households that are also nearing the end of their “safe harbor” protection despite having done everything they could to get help.

I believe we have an obligation to return for a special session to protect the tenants who are facing eviction despite having rental assistance on the way.

If you or someone you know is being taken to eviction court, you can get free legal help from the Eviction Defense Project through the Oregon Law Center. More information on this statewide support program is available here. You can also call their help line at 888-585-9638 or reach them by email at

District Spotlight: Temporary Shelter Coming to Arbor Lodge

In the 2021 session, I advocated for $5 million to develop a shelter in the Arbor Lodge neighborhood at the site of the former Rite Aid pharmacy at North Lombard and Denver. I was pleased to see the recent update from Multnomah County about this project as well as additional funding for other key public safety and homelessness programs. Kudos to the County and the Joint Office of Homeless Services for working hard to keep people safe this coming winter.

The new severe weather shelter in Arbor Lodge should be operational by Thanksgiving. The facility will have 12 standalone pods in addition to congregate shelter space to support 40 to 45 people. More information on the Arbor Lodge shelter project can be found here. There is also a community engagement process taking place about a more permanent shelter at this location.

Employment Department Wants to Hear from You

The Oregon Employment Department is hosting listening sessions for workers and employers to give feedback on the changes to the “availability” rule.

The new temporary “availability” rule impacts Oregonians who have barriers to returning to work, such as caring for a sick family member or providing child care. Feedback on this temporary rule will inform changes to the permanent rule. The temporary rule is effective from September 26, 2021 through March 24, 2022. Changes to this rule clarifies may expand access to support to those still affected by COVID-19.

While there are many situations that may prevent returning to work, here are two examples to illustrate how the new temporary rule is applied.

Scenario One: Your employer has two shifts for your position. Because your partner can only watch the kids during the evening shift, you must be available for the other shift to be considered ‘available’ to work. Previously, you had to be available for all shifts during a day to qualify for benefits. 

Scenario Two: Your employer has three shifts for your position. Now that your child is back in school, you must be able and available to work the morning or day shift.

You can register for one of the remaining listening sessions below. Simultaneous interpretation will be available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian and Cantonese.

Listening Sessions for Workers

  • October 26, 2021 from 12 pm - 1:30 pm: Register
  • November 9, 2021 from 6 pm - 7:30 pm: Register

Listening Sessions for Employers

  • November 3, 2021 from 12 pm - 1:30 pm: Register
  • November 17, 2021 from 9 am - 10:30 am: Register

Thank you for reading! We will get through this together.



Tina Kotek

State Representative
House District 44
Speaker of the House

email: I phone: 503-986-1200
address: 900 Court St NE, H-269, Salem, OR 97301