Oregon’s unemployed wait for virus relief payment

Coronavirus

The OED is not in charge of administering the $500 relief payments

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In July, the Oregon legislature approved one-time $500 emergency relief payments for people who were still waiting for unemployment benefits. The $35 million program could cover as many as 70,000 people, but only helps if the money actually reaches the people who need it. And so far, a system has not been set up to do that.

Oscar Riley is among those who have still not received unemployment benefits. He said, so far, he’s waited 19 weeks for benefits.

“I mean, it’s pretty tough, you know, it’s mentally exhausting,” said Riley. “I don’t have like any hope. I’m just in complete disbelief. I didn’t think that, you know, this system could be this broken. It’s just appalling.”

That’s part of why the state legislature approved the $500 emergency relief payments on July 14th. And for people like Riley, that money can’t come soon enough.

“It would be extremely helpful,” said Riley.

However, the Oregon Employment Department is not in charge of administering the $500 relief payments. Instead, it’s under the purview of the Oregon Department of Administrative Services. It’s a program that people will have to apply for. Riley hopes that people will receive emergency funds faster since the program is overseen by a different department.

A spokesperson for House Speaker Tina Kotek’s office said they’re still working with financial institutions to roll out the payments.

Eligibility guidelines came out late Friday. Oregon residents who are 18 years or older can apply. Other criteria include: if you’re experiencing financial hardship because of the governor’s stay-home order, or you made $4,000 a month or less before taxes, before the pandemic, and if you have yet to received all of your unemployment payments. You may also be eligible if you were denied or did not apply for unemployment but are still struggling financially.

More information on the relief program is expected to be available in the coming week.

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