GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — Lines of people stretched around the block at banks and credit unions around the state of Oregon as hard-hit residents applied for a $500 emergency relief check from Oregon in a unique public-private partnership.

The program, announced Wednesday, is aimed to help 70,000 Oregonians who have been hurt economically by the pandemic. By mid-afternoon Thursday, 33,000 people have been paid. The state said the money is expected to last until at least next week.

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.

People lined up outside the Gresham OnPoint credit union location for a $500 emergency relief payment, August 20, 2020 (KOIN)

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.

‘Really overwhelming to see so many people’

At OnPoint locations in Gresham, Clackamas and downtown Portland, lines of people wound around the block.

OnPoint officials said there were additional staff at branches answering questions and provided printed information and a numbered “ticket” system.

Ronald Collins is among the thousands who applied for the one-time $500 emergency relief payment from Oregon, August 20, 2020 (KOIN)

Ronald Collins said he drove to 3 OnPoint locations plus a Selco credit union “and all of them had lines around the block.”

Collins said the $500 “was a kind gesture” but he didn’t think it was executed quite right.

Briana Rehana had similar thoughts. She tried 2 locations on Wednesay and was turned away.

“So many people yesterday were getting turned away that it was just really sad to see,” Rehana said. “The manager said there was 150 applications before ours and she was not going to process anything more. She said we could try to come back the next day.”

Briana Rehana is among the thousands who applied for the one-time $500 emergency relief payment from Oregon, August 20, 2020 (KOIN)

The long lines at banks and credit unions around the state showed there is a huge need for this emergency relief.

Rehana said she was surprised at the lines.

“It was really overwhelming to see so many people that qualified that their income was impacted by COVID and that they needed the emergency,” she said.

That’s why the state said Congress needs to step up and do more to help.

Arrests at a different branch

Portland police broke up a fight between 2 men at an OnPoint location at 517 SW Harvey Milk. Authorities told KOIN 6 News that while they were investigating, one man jumped up and kicked the other. When police tried to take him into custody, the crowd “became hostile and began to surround the officers.” More police arrived to help and 3 people were arrested — the fighters plus one person from the crowd.

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.

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.