A Helping Handout: Linn County's Rental Assistance Program Provides Temporary Relief but No Long-Term Solutions

Linn County's Emergency Rental Assistance Program aims to temporarily bandage a gaping wound.

While the program offers short-term aid for renters facing financial troubles due to COVID-19, it does little to address the underlying issues that made these households vulnerable in the first place.  

The program, funded by federal stimulus money, has provided over 1,500 Linn County households with up to 12 months of rental and utility assistance since 2021.

However, what happens when the aid runs out and renters are still unable to pay their bills? The program is not a sustainable solution and fails to tackle the systemic problems like lack of affordable housing, stagnant wages, and economic inequality that threaten housing security.  

Simply put, this is a short-sighted handout that will provide momentary relief but no long-term stability.

Renters will likely end up back where they started, facing unaffordable housing costs and the threat of eviction.

The program also primarily benefits landlords by guaranteeing them payments, while renters remain in a cycle of hardship.  

While any additional support for struggling households is welcome, Linn County should recognize that this temporary program will not solve the underlying issues. More comprehensive solutions are needed, like:
  • developing affordable housing
  • increasing the minimum wage
  • expanding the social safety net
These are what will provide sustainable relief for renters facing financial difficulties, whether due to COVID-19 or other circumstances.  

Handouts are helpful, but they are not enough. Renters need systemic solutions and real change, not just temporary aid and empty promises. Linn County must work to address the root causes of housing insecurity if they aim to keep residents stably and affordably housed for the long run.

Simply lending a helping handout is not a viable or ethical solution. Renters deserve sustainable relief and real solutions so they can get back on their feet for good.

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