Portland, Ore – Portlanders struggling from the health or financial impacts of COVID-19, can apply for five hundred dollar payments from the city starting next week.
Mayor Ted Wheeler says people are struggling to pay for food, rent, dependent care, utilities, transportation, and medicine. “I know a lot of people are hurting,” says Wheeler.
He explained that’s why, “I’m excited to announce that we’re dedicating $15 million dollars to a new COVID-19 Household Assistance Program.”
Columbia-Willamette United Way’s Cindy Adams says her organization is working with the city to mail out 2,800 prepaid debit cards to Portlanders. “We are proud to step up and help the city of Portland with this new partnership,” says Adams.
Portland Housing Bureau Director Shannon Callahan says they’re already trying to get the message out to community agencies. “We are reaching Black, indigenous, LatinX and other people of color,” she said. “We know that it is Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color who are most deeply impacted by economic crises and most often left behind by economic recovery.”
The money’s available first come first serve, next Tuesday or Friday, to people who meet income limits.
The application window for the first 1,400 cards opens on October 27th beginning at 9am and the remaining 1,400 will be distributed on October 30 beginning at 1pm. All applications must be submitted online at www.pdxassist.com.
To be eligible, applicants must be at least 18 years old and living in the City of Portland; have experienced a loss of income or elevated health risk related to COVID-19; and have a household income at or below 80% of Area Median Income (see income eligibility chart).
“The City of Portland’s emergency response to the COVID-19 crisis prioritizes housing stability, food security and support for the most vulnerable in our community,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said. “This household assistance program will help ease the daily struggle of those who are most deeply impacted by the pandemic’s severe economic impact.”
The $15 million Household Assistance Program was rolled out by the Portland Housing Bureau earlier this month. To ensure assistance would reach Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color communities, and those facing barriers to accessing a public application, the majority of the funds are being distributed in collaboration with approximately 35 culturally specific community-based organizations—most of which represent new partnerships for the City, in an effort to create new opportunities with City resources and better serve communities.
“In a time of such great need, having these broad community-based partnerships is critical to getting this assistance to those in need who are too often left out and left behind.”
Through a partnership with the Joint Office of Homeless Services, prepaid cards will also be provided to families and individuals experiencing homelessness and living in shelters and on the streets. Those cards will be made available through sheltering organizations and outreach teams that contract with the Joint Office.
“The pandemic has only deepened the crisis for people experiencing homelessness in our community. Especially as we head into winter, these household assistance funds will be a lifeline for people who are struggling to face COVID-19 without even the basic protections a home,” said Marc Jolin, Director of the Joint Office of Homeless Services.
In total, the Household Assistance Program is expected to assist 27,000 Portland households between now and December 30th.
The program is part of a $36 million investment in housing relief measures by the City of Portland and the Portland Housing Bureau in response to COVID-19, including $19.5 million in City funds for rent assistance and $1.6 million in housing stabilization support for low-income BIPOC homeowners. Members of the public seeking rent assistance should call 211.
For more information on how to apply for the Household Assistance Program, go to www.pdxassist.com or email United Way of the Columbia-Willamette at [email protected]
Income Eligibility Chart:
Family Size/ Maximum Annual Income: