Special Session, Preventing Evictions, and Boosters for Everyone 16+

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Representative Julie Fahey


Governor Brown has called the legislature into a special session for next Monday, December 13, which means that I am currently hard at work preparing. The session will address the challenges with Oregon’s rental assistance distribution and eviction protections. It’s a continuation of the work I have been engaged in since the beginning of the pandemic – as Chair of the House Housing Committee, my top priority has been keeping people housed and stabilizing the rental market during these difficult times. Evictions are devastating for families and for whole communities. I am grateful that the Governor has called the legislature together so that we can do our jobs and protect Oregonians.

So, what are the problems the legislature will tackle? As I discussed in my last newsletter, we passed a “safe harbor” protection during the 2021 session that pauses any nonpayment eviction proceedings for 60 days if a tenant is in line for rental assistance. This policy was intended to protect tenants from evictions while making landlords whole using the rental assistance dollars Oregon was allocated from the federal government. But application processing times at many local community action agencies have been significantly longer than expected back in June. There are now more than 8,000 Oregon households who applied for rental assistance in a timely manner but have already timed out their safe harbor protections. These families are facing eviction for nonpayment at any moment simply because of administrative delays in processing their applications.

In addition, nearly all of the federal rental assistance initially allocated to Oregon has now been requested or allocated. Oregon has paused our state rental assistance portal as of December 1. There is still local rental assistance available in some areas (tenants in Lane County can go to lanecounty.org/rent or call 2-1-1 to find assistance), but after a year and a half of economic hardship, we know there is still significant need that is going unmet.

As we head into the holiday season and the coldest winter months, we must fulfill the promise we made to Oregonians. No tenant should be evicted while they are waiting for assistance to arrive, and landlords deserve certainty that funding is available to help them after a difficult year. Sen. Kayse Jama and I have developed a proposal that will improve the state’s bipartisan safe harbor protections and provide additional funds for direct rent assistance to tenants and housing providers. If you’d like to hear more about our proposal, you can listen to our recent interview on Think Out Loud or read the op-ed published in The Oregonian this week. I believe our recovery from this pandemic depends on keeping people in their homes, and I look forward to taking action next week.

COVID Updates

Booster shots. The CDC is now recommending that everyone 18 and older should get a booster dose. While previously, booster doses were available to any adult who wanted one, the new guidance is that every adult SHOULD get a booster once they are eligible. If your original series was a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you are eligible six months after your second dose. If you got a Johnson & Johnson vaccination, you are eligible two months after your initial shot.

Every 18+ years who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is eligible for a booster.

In addition, the CDC just authorized booster doses for 16- and 17-year-olds. They are eligible to get a third dose of Pfizer six months after their second dose.

16- and 17- year olds are eligible for a booster dose

We’ve all been hearing a lot about the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which has been detected in several states here in the US and is causing some concern because it may be more infectious than previous strains. This article provides a good overview of what we know and don't know at this point – at this point, the variant is so new that there's not much we know for sure.

We're all hoping this turns out to be a variant like the epsilon variant, which seemed concerning because of the possibility that it was more transmissible but didn't end up impacting global health systems. Regardless, this news about Omicron is one more reason for everyone who is eligible for a booster shot to get one as soon as possible, especially in advance of the holiday season. Lane County has booster clinics several times per week – appointments open for scheduling on Fridays for the following week, and you can find scheduling information at lanecounty.org/vaxclinics.

Pediatric vaccines. Lane County is also offering pediatric vaccination clinics for children aged 5 and older – the County is partnering with schools to schedule clinics for kids all over the county. There is more information at lanecounty.org/vaxclinics. Parents may have questions about getting their kids vaccinated. I’d encourage everyone to ask their doctor or pediatrician about keeping their family safe. In addition, the Oregon Health Authority hosted this Facebook Live Q&A to answer some common questions from parents about vaccines for kids – like what kinds of side effects you can expect and what parents should know about vaccine safety.

Masks and testing for the holidays. There has been some good news on the pandemic front in Oregon: the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 statewide now stands at 405 patients, down dramatically from the peak of 1,178 patients in early September. These improving numbers led the state to end the outdoor mask mandate, which required people to wear masks outdoors in situations where they could not safely distance from others. However, it’s important to note that the decline in hospitalizations has stalled for the last 3 weeks, and the number of people hospitalized right now is still significantly higher than it was for almost all of 2020 – a time when we didn’t have vaccines and our doctors and hospitals knew less than they do now about how to treat this disease. The numbers we are seeing now are not as dramatic as they were in August/September, but they are still stretching the capacity of our hospital system and health care providers.

That means that we still need to be careful as we make our end-of-year holiday plans. The best thing to do is to get vaccinated/boosted, stay home and arrange for testing if you are feeling sick, and wear a mask when you’re indoors around people outside your household. If you plan to get together for an extended time with family and friends for the holidays, you might also consider having the people in your group get tested beforehand, especially if anyone will be unvaccinated. UO runs a free testing program for asymptomatic individuals, Lane County holds regular testing clinics, and many pharmacies offer free testing appointments as well. The BinaxNOW at-home rapid tests are also now widely available at many pharmacies, for about $24 for two tests. If you are experiencing symptoms, an urgent care clinic or your health care provider can also offer testing. It is wonderful that so many people are able to see family for the first time this holiday season after a hard year, but we have to stay vigilant to make sure everyone stays safe.

Positive News

Thank you bus drivers! I joined this rally put together by Better Eugene-Springfield Transportation (BEST) to thank the heroic LTD bus drivers for their service to our community during the pandemic! LTD bus drivers have shown up every day, amid all of the uncertainty and difficult conditions of the last year and a half, getting people where they need to go and keeping our community connected. They have been the essential workers’ essential worker, and it was great to get a chance to thank them for their work.

Speaking to the crowd at the BEST rally

Congrats Aceia!
Churchill High Senior Aceia Spade won the national Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant. She will spend the next year representing Juneteenth Oregon and the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, spreading awareness about Juneteenth both locally and nationally. She was on Think Out Loud last month talking about being a role model and how the pageant has helped her build community.


Fahey signature

Julie Fahey
State Representative

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1414
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-286, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: Rep.JulieFahey@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/fahey