‘Overwhelming demand’ closes housing fund

Coronavirus

Only 700 families got applications approved before closure

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Emergency Household Stabilization fund that opened at 10 a.m. on Monday morning was closed by 10:30 a.m.

The Portland Housing Bureau said it was because of overwhelming demand.

A total of $1 million had been reallocated to the COVID-19 Emergency Household Stabilization Fund for households that have seen income lost throughout the pandemic. They said limited cash assistance would be sent to at least 2,000 households to help cover various expenses such as groceries, rent, utilities, and medical expenses. 

The 211 phone lines opened at 10 a.m. Monday and were immediately flooded, officials said.

Reporter Elise Haas talks about covering this new assistance program as it opened and then closed. Listen to the Podcast below or on Apple Podcasts, GooglePlay, Spotify or Stitcher.

According to PHB, only about 700 families will be given the one-time $250 VISA gift card that is part of the program. Unfortunately, that number is just a fraction of the people who tried calling Monday.

“The need has been really overwhelming,” said PHB’s Martha Calhoon. “The amount of outreach from the public — people just saying ‘we need help,’ [or asking] ‘what’s available to us?'”​

Out of the fund, $200,000 was available to the public. Remaining funds were to be distributed through internal resources, according to PHB.

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