BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — NeighborImpact is working to keep Central Oregonians on the brink of homelessness off of the streets and avoid eviction.
It’s doing so with Oregon’s Eviction Diversion and Prevention Program (ORE-DAP), a program that provides a lifeline to people on the verge of homelessness.
The program, the first of its kind in Oregon, was developed by Oregon Housing and Community Services.
Noah Chast will have more information on the prevention efforts in Central Oregon tonight on NewsChannel 21 at Five.
Here’s a news release this week from Oregon Housing and Community Services:
Preventing homelessness one person at a time in Oregon
Community-wide coordinated approach to break the cycle of homelessness
Oregon’s Eviction Diversion and Prevention Program (ORE-DAP) provides a lifeline to people on the verge of homelessness. The program, the first of its kind in Oregon, was developed by Oregon Housing and Community Services
“Agencies that are a part of their communities, especially those with culturally specific services, are able to best understand the needs and the solutions for the people who live there,” said Jill Smith, interim director of the Housing Stabilization Division at OHCS. “If we want to eradicate homelessness, we must move away from the one-size-fits-all approach and deploy resources in a targeted way.”
With this mindset, the Community Action Organization (CAO) of Washington County, in partnership with the Oregon Law Center and Unite Oregon, is using innovative methods to quickly assist Oregonians who face displacement. They do not wait for tenants who have run out of options to find them; they proactively find people who are facing imminent evictions.
“We have a member of our team reviewing the eviction docket and reaching out to tenants who have upcoming court dates,” explained Kemp Shuey, executive director at CAO. “That is how we found Johnathon. He got a call from our housing specialist who helped him navigate the court process and much more.”
ORE-DAP was designed to assist people like Johnathon, who asked to remain anonymous. When the pandemic hit, Johnathon was partially retired and had been supplementing his Social Security income with part-time work at a bowling alley. COVID-19 forced the bowling alley to close its doors. He lost his job and the supplemental income he relied on to cover his living expenses. He knew he could not afford his rent without it, and he was worried.
“I thought that I would be living in a tent somewhere. I had nowhere to go,” Johnathon said.
His worst fears became real when his landlord served him with an eviction notice because they needed the rental unit for a family member. He did not know what to do. He was already behind on his rent and moving would mean a rent increase and more move-in costs.
Johnathon describes the call as a turning point in his life. “That was one of the best phone calls I’ve ever gotten,” he said. “That meant everything to hear, ‘We’ll be there. You’re not in this alone.’ ”
The CAO housing specialist negotiated with the landlord for more time so she could help Johnathon find a new home. It also gave Johnathon time to get the financial help he needed. He got help with paying his back rent as well as rental assistance for the first year in the new place.
Johnathon is thankful for the assistance. “Community Action helped tremendously,” he said. “I don’t have a feeling of despair anymore.”
And he is proof that when the system works, it breaks the cycle of homelessness—one person at a time.
To find out about ORE-DAP resources in your area, contact a Community Action Agency or call 2-1-1 to be connected. Tenants who are worried about eviction should contact the Oregon Law Center’s Eviction Defense line at 888-585-9638 or go to the center’s website.
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