PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Mayor Ted Wheeler, the City of Portland and the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette announced a new city program for residents struggling with the health and economic impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic at a Friday morning press conference.
Daily life continues to be affected in Portland by the pandemic. But now Portlanders feeling the impacts of COVID-19 will have the chance to apply for $500 in household assistance for costs such as food, care, medicine, rent, utilities and transportation with the Household Assistance Program.
As announced on Friday morning, the City of Portland has partnered with United Way of the Columbia-Willamette and dozens of other local partners to establish this $15 million fund, which is set to distribute 2,800 prepaid debit cards to those struggling due to the virus.
“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 application window for the first 1,400 cards will open on Tuesday, October 27 at 9 a.m. The next window for the remaining 1,400 will open on Friday, October 30 beginning at 1 p.m.
“We know families are struggling to make ends meet in this particular moment,” United Way President and CEO Cindy Adams said. “A recent PSU survey showed that 53 percent of Oregonian tenants paid their monthly rent by cutting back on food and medication.”
Eligible applicants must be over the age of 18, live in Portland and have experienced a “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.
“I know that a lot of people are hurting, but it’s important to remember we all benefit when programs help those most in need in our community,” Wheeler said.
The Portland Housing Bureau says the overwhelming majority of recipients are already connected to social services in the city — which are focused on helping vulnerable families.
“We do have 34 community-based organizations already distributing cards, through their networks and communities we’re trying to make sure we’re reaching Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other people of color,” Shannon Callahan with the Portland Housing Bureau said.
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.
This is not the only program recently established in an effort to help those trying to stay afloat due to COVID-19.
The popular Healthy Business Program — which allowed businesses to spread out on the sidewalks in front of their locations — was extended through March 31, 2020 with applications being accepted now for the Winter Healthy Business Program.
Furthermore, Multnomah County extended the county-wide eviction moratorium through the end of 2020.