Changes in the law since the publication of Oregon’s Legal Guide for College Students:

1. COVID rent moratorium extended

January 1—The legislature extended the COVID-19 rent moratorium mentioned on page 14. The moratorium will extend through June 30, 2021. To take advantage of the extension (which covers the October-December 2020 period, too), tenants must truthfully sign a sworn statement that they lack the ability to pay. If you are among them, check with your city or county to see if there is rental assistance to help you get through this period. Remember, you WILL owe all the unpaid rent (but not late fees or interest) July 1, so try to save as much money as you can for that purpose. If you live in Portland, the rules are slightly different—check with the city for details.

2. Decriminalization of illegal drug possession

February 1—On this date, Measure 110, the citizens’ initiative to decriminalize possession of small amounts of many illegal drugs takes effect. Those found to have “non-commercial” amounts of heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine will no longer be charged with a crime. Instead, they face a fine of $100 or they must complete a medical assessment by an alcohol and drug counselor at an addiction recovery program within 45 days. “Distributing” (giving or selling to others) is still a crime. Note that possession is still illegal under federal law. See pp. 16 and 96.

3. COVID student loan deferments

Students and former students with outstanding government loans got a reprieve from having to pay principal or interest until September 2021. If you are able to continue paying anything on your loans, make payments marked as “principal” during this time. (Include a letter directing the funds to be applied to principal and keep a copy!) With the principal becoming smaller, the interest payments you will have to make later on will also be smaller. There is talk that some or all of government loans for students might be forgiven, but that outcome is highly unlikely. Pay what you can during the freeze, and remember that hope is not a plan.  See Section B-8.

4. Dreamers and DACA

Thanks to a change in administrations, “Dreamers” can once again breathe a little more easily as efforts to have them deported are ended. See Section H-5, pp. 111-112.