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If you entered this month concerned about yourself or someone you know losing their housing, I hope the Legislature’s action last week to extend the statewide eviction moratorium through June 30, 2021, eased some of the stress that so many are feeling as the pandemic continues.

It’s important for renters to understand the new law and protect themselves and their housing security. If you have questions about how the new statewide eviction ban works, please check out this explainer from the Oregon Law Center at https://www.scribd.com/ document/489037891/OLC-Explainer- and-Declaration-Form. It includes a version of the sworn declaration of financial hardship that renters must fill out, sign and give it to their landlords in order to be protected from eviction

Good News on Unemployment Benefits

After a lot of uncertainty, it's great to finally see the passage of another federal relief package. We’re all still learning the details and timing of the assistance, but more help is on the way.

Federal unemployment benefits that were offered under the CARES Act that passed in March expired last Saturday. And because President Trump didn’t sign the latest bill until Sunday night, there was a concern that more than 70,000 Oregonians would experience a gap in these critical benefits.

The good news is that the Oregon Employment Department said that most Oregonians shouldn’t experience a benefits gap, as the Statesman Journal reported here.

The state is still waiting to receive rules and instructions from the U.S. Department of Labor before it can pay out benefits from the new federal relief bill. I will share more information on when these benefits will be available as soon as we know more.

The department says unemployed workers will NOT miss out on a week of PUA, PEUC, or FPUC benefits as a result of when the bill was signed. Those benefits will come retroactively once the department starts issuing payments.

Please continue filing your weekly claims, regardless of which program you are on. Latest on Schools Reopening Last week, Governor Brown announced that she was directing the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority to allow more local flexibility to decide when schools can reopen for in-person learning. The goal is to put more school districts on track to return students to in-person instruction by February 15, with a particular focus on elementary school students. There have been immense challenges with distance learning, despite the heroic efforts of our educators and parents. Like a lot of folks, I’m concerned about the long-term consequences of this disruption in children’s education and social-emotional development.

Any return to the classroom, however, will have to be done safely and deliberately. Governor Brown has said educators, school staff members, and other school employees should be prioritized for vaccine distribution, as The Oregonian reported

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