Special committee discusses economic response to COVID-19

Coronavirus

The meeting was held via video stream

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Joint Committee On Coronavirus Response held its first public meeting online on Wednesday and discussed economic relief across the state of Oregon.

The committee of legislators is tasked with finding a way to support low income and vulnerable Oregonians along with small businesses as they close to comply with public health requests.

Lawmakers said they are heading into uncharted terriorty with the coronavirus pandemic. They’re tasked with helping low-income and vulnerable populations with housing as well as business who are being hit immediately.

The coronavirus committee is gathering information to understand where we’re at, what the needs of our communities are, where legislators can help the coronavirus response. The broader focus is on food and housing along with business and economic preservation.

At this time, there are two approaches on housing: rental and mortgage assistance with direct payments, or a state-wide moratorium on evictions as we’ve already seen from Portland and Multnomah County.

State legislators could also consider using both options to protect people from evicitions after the crisis has resolved.

To keep people fed, they might look at expanding unemployment services. For businesses, they’re discussing options to find ways to get businesses assistance now — but to also create flexibility to get them through the storm. Lawmakers said that not only is this an economic diaster right now, but one that we will have to recover from later.

Therefore, lawmakers in the coronavirus committee are saying it will require a special session in order to create a proper budget to respond to this economic impact.

They’ve already received 50 emails of testimony. If you have ideas to address this, you can email the committee. To streamline the conversation, they are asking you to not email the governor’s office.

The committee will also consider how to help community colleges and their vulnerable staff and students as their courses get delayed and jobs get halted.

The committee’s first meeting was held at 10 a.m. and a press conference will be held at 4 p.m. Members of the public can submit ideas, feedback and testimony via email by 5 p.m.

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