PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A unique public-private partnership will let about 70,000 Oregonians access a one-time emergency relief payment of $500 beginning now.

“We hope this program today will really help Oregonians who need it,” House Speaker Tina Kotek said during a press conference announcing the program on Wednesday morning.

In mid-July, the Legislative Emergency Board earmarked $35 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund monies to make this one-time payment to state residents who are having a hard financial time during the pandemic.

Kotek said 100 people had already applied within the first hour. By 3:30 p.m., about 4000 people have already been paid. Officials aren’t sure how fast the funds will run out.

The collaborative project includes the Oregon Legislature, the Oregon Department of Administrative Services, Umpqua Bank, Columbia Bank and members of the Northwest Oregon Credit Union Association.

People who think they qualify should go to a state website, EmergencyChecks, that will guide them to the nearest participating bank or credit union. There are more than 150 locations throughout the state where those who are eligible can receive this one-time relief check.

Those who can’t access the EmergencyChecks website should call 211 and ask about the Emergency Relief Check Program.

A complete list of participating banks and credit unions
is embedded at the bottom of this article.

Eligibility Requirements

There are specific requirements to qualify for the $500 relief payment:

  • Be a current resident of Oregon and 18 years or older.
  • Be able to prove their identity and that they are an in-state resident.
  • Attest that they are experiencing severe financial hardship directly or indirectly due to the Governor’s Stay Home, Save Lives executive orders.
  • Have earned $4000/month or less pre-tax prior to their income loss due to COVID-19.
  • Not have received all unemployment payments they are owed.

‘Important to try something’

Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney said they know a one-time payment isn’t going to solve a lot of problems.

“With such a huge jump in unemployment, some people are still waiting for their benefits,” Courtney said. “We know $500 isn’t going to solve all of these problems, but if we can help a family buy groceries for the month, pay for child care, or cover an unexpected repair, it’s worth it.”

“While we know these limited funds aren’t enough and won’t allow us to help everyone, we felt it was important to try something,” Kotek said. “After months of hearing from increasingly desperate Oregonians who were doing everything right and still not getting the unemployment they were owed, we hope this effort offers a streamlined way for some financial relief. The state is stepping up, and I hope Congress will act soon to provide more support that is desperately needed.”