Farmworkers pick asparagus in a Nyssa field. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

ONTARIO – A new program managed by the Oregon Human Development Corporation is offering help with paying rent to certain populations.

The program, called Supporting Tenants Accessing Rental Relief (STARR), is paid for with federal and state funds and offers support to farmworkers, the homeless and unstably housed, and those fleeing domestic violence.

The rental relief is available until June 30, and cover up to 12 months of past-due rent.

To apply, interested parties can call the Oregon Human Development Corporation Office in Ontario at 541-881-1491 or email [email protected] in English or Spanish.

One qualification is that a person had to be employed as a farmworker at some point during the past two years and have a low income within the past year. 

Low-income metrics vary depending on family size; a single adult, for example, would need to have earned less than $36,050 over the past year in Malheur County to qualify, whereas the head of a family of 11 would need to have earned less than $80,340. 

One also must have been impacted by Covid during the past year to qualify for the aid. Such impacts might include job loss, reduced hours, or difficulty finding daycare. 

Although the development corporation does ask for identification when processing applications, it doesn’t require a Social Security number, making it is accessible to undocumented people. 

The agency takes steps to verify family size and income before obtaining a copy of the rental agreement in question and the landlord’s contact. 

“A lot of people could benefit from this,” said Carmen Andrea Cisneros, a resource specialist case manager with the agency. “I think that’s why it’s important that we get the funds out to as many people as possible. Because a lot of people we talk to, they work overtime, yet they still qualify.” 

News tip? Contact reporter Liliana Frankel at [email protected] or 267-981-5577. 

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