Portland to Distribute COVID Relief

Applications open Tuesday for $500 payments for struggling households

10/26/2020, 2:43 p.m.
The program can help with costs such as food, dependent care, medicine, rent and utilities and transportation.
The City of Portland has created the Portland COVID-19 Household Assistance Program to provide $500 prepaid Visa debit cards to help households experiencing a loss of income or increased health risks/needs due to COVID-19. Photo from pdxassist.com website.

The city of Portland will begin taking applications on Tuesday, Oct. 27 for $500 in household assistance via free visa debit cards to help Portlanders struggling to pay for health or other household needs because of COVID-19.

The program is part of the city’s $36 million investment in COVID-19 housing relief. The program can help with costs such as food, dependent care, medicine, rent and utilities and transportation.

United Way of the Columbia-Willamette has partnered with the city to distribute 2,800 prepaid debit cards through two open application windows. The cards will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis. The application window for the first 1,400 cards opens on Oct. 27 beginning at 9 am and the remaining 1,400 will be distributed on Oct. 30 beginning at 1 pm. All applications must be submitted online at www.pdxassist.com.

To be eligible, applicants must be at least 18 years old and living in the City of Portland; have experienced 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. For a family of one that the income limit is $51,600 while for a family of four it would be $73,860.

“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.”

Through a partnership with the Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS), prepaid cards will also be provided to families and individuals experiencing homelessness and living in shelters and on the streets. Those cards will be made available through sheltering organizations and outreach teams that contract with the Joint Office.

“The pandemic has only deepened the crisis for people experiencing homelessness in our community. Especially as we head into winter, these household assistance funds will be a lifeline for people who are struggling to face COVID-19 without even the basic protections a home,” said Marc Jolin, Director of the Joint Office of Homeless Services.

In total, the Household Assistance Program is expected to assist 27,000 Portland households between now and Dec. 30.

The program is part of a $36 million investment in housing relief measures by the City of Portland and the Portland Housing Bureau in response to COVID-19, including $19.5 million in City funds for rent assistance and $1.6 million in housing stabilization support for low-income BIPOC homeowners. Members of the public seeking rent assistance should call 211.

For more information on how to apply for the Household Assistance Program, go to www.pdxassist.com or email United Way of the Columbia-Willamette at info@pdxassist.com.