PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The first application window for the new Housing Assistance Program closed within minutes after opening at 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
According to city officials, around 1,600 applications were received within the first five minutes. That’s 200 more than the 1,400 prepaid debit cards available for this first application round of the program. The program is set to distribute 2,800 prepaid debit cards worth $500 each, split into two application rounds.
“There were very limited funds available so we’re doing what we can to try to provide assistance, given the limited resources that we have,” Leslie Goodlow from the Portland Housing Bureau said. “United Way has been a great partner for us, and it’s not their fault. I don’t want anyone to be mad at United Way.”
While Goodlow knows this is a tough time for many, she said there is still another opportunity to apply. The next window to apply for the remaining 1,400 available cards will open on Friday, beginning at 1 p.m.
The new program is for Portlanders affected by the coronavirus pandemic can apply for money to help pay for items like food, medicine, rent and transportation. Mayor Ted Wheeler, the City of Portland and the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette announced the program’s launch during a press conference last Friday.
Eligible applicants must be over the age of 18, live in Portland and 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,” according to the Portland Housing Bureau.
Prepaid cards will also be provided to those experiencing homelessness or living in shelters, made available through the Joint Office of Homeless Services.
Overall, the Household Assistance Program is expected to help 27,000 Portland households between now and the end of the year. For more information about the program and details on how to apply, visit www.pdxassist.com.
The Housing Bureau is looking at other ways to support people, like the city and county’s rent assistance program.
“However, right now, calling 211 is the best option for folks,” Goodlow said. “As other resources become available, we will look to renew or expand this debit card program,” Goodlow said. “If congress is able to pass additional funding, then we already have this system set up and it won’t take us as long to do another round if we receive the resource.”
The Portland Housing Bureau can answer questions at 503.823.1303 or by email: PHBInfo@portlandoregon.gov