What We have Been Up To
Since Rent Well was created in 2009, it was collectively overseen by several agencies and a committee known as the Renter’s Education ALliance (REAL.) This committee was comprised of housing advocates, case managers, non-profits, tenants, housing providers, property managers, and governmental organizations from around the Portland Metro area. The curriculum was written by a professional curriculum developer and reviewed by the Fair Housing Council of Oregon, Legal Aid Services of Oregon, Community Alliance of Tenants, and Multifamily NW.
The curriculum was maintained by the REAL Committee, Homeforward, and the City of Portland until 2016. In July 2016, Rent Well’s ownership and administration were transferred to Transition Projects, the largest provider of the Rent Well courses. Since the consolidation of the program’s oversight, many updates, successes, and expansions have occurred.
- July: We celebrated the successful passage of the Oregon House Bill (HB) 2724, which created a statewide Rent Guarantee Program to be paired with certified tenant education courses, like Rent Well.
- November: 5,000 Rent Well students have graduated to date
- January: Version 3.0 of the Oregon and Washington curriculum was released. This version was the first update since 2014 and combined the instructor manual notes with the student manual so that instructor could have one manual to teach from instead of two.
- May: Rent Well program obtained a $25k grant from the Oregon Community Foundation to translate the Oregon instructor and student materials into Spanish.
- June: Once again we celebrated the successful passage of the Oregon Senate Bill (SB) 278, which extended eligibility for the Rent Guarantee Program to individuals between 16 and 26 years of age who were in foster care or the juvenile justice system within the past 10 years.
- August: The 4.0 version of the Oregon and Washington curriculum was completed and released. This pulled apart the Oregon and Washington specific laws and curriculum into their own separate versions of the student and instructor manuals.
- February: The program advocated for a technical fix Senate Bill (SB) 1533 to be passed. This bill would clean up minor but important details in the original Rent Guarantee Bill to make the guarantee more accessible to Rent Well graduates and their property managers. Unfortunately, the bill didn’t make it out of session.
- March: We hired an official Administrative Support Specialist. Staffing for the administrative arm of the program increased from one to two full time positions.
- May: This is was a big month for us! The 10,000th Rent Well student graduated. And at the same time, due to the COVID pandemic, changes were made to the original in-person course to make it into a webinar-style friend version of the curriculum.
- January: Rent Well was awarded a $500k grant from Oregon Housing and Community Services to transform the curriculum into a standalone eCourse and mobile app in seven different languages: English, Spanish, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, and German.
- May: We finally were able to celebrate the successful passage of the Oregon House Bill (HB) 2101, which was are rerun of the technical fix bill from 2019 to make the Oregon guarantee more accessible to Rent Well graduates.
- July: The newly designed rentwell.org was released.
- August: The eCourse version of the Tenant Education Academy was released. This allows individuals that want to either become instructors or trained professionals the ability to access the training on their own time and not have to wait for quarterly trainings.
- October: A partnership between Pacific Screening and Rent Well allowed the creation of a new screening site so that both instructors and students can have access to easy-to-read, in-the-moment background reports.
- January: Rent Well was officially named the gold-standard of tenant education in the state of Oregon and became the only state-approved tenant education curriculum to be paired with the Rent Guarantee Program. Also, program staffing increased from two to six full-time staff. The additional staffing was to support the students of the eCourse to complete the curriculum, as well as have a point person to support instructors at other agencies and grow relationships with property managers.
- February: The eCourse officially opens to the general public. Thanks to additional funding from Oregon Housing and Community Services, the eCourse will be free for up to 5,000 low-income Oregonians per year.
- March: We broke ground on Apply Oregon, a joint venture between Rent Well and Pacific Screening, meant to bridge the gap between graduates and Oregon landlords. Additionally, version 5, better known as the version 2022 of the Oregon and Washington curriculum was released.