State offers $500 to struggling Oregonians

Bath and Body Works in the Willamette Town Center was closed. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

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If you’re struggling financially because of the pandemic, you may be eligible for a one-time payment of $500.

On Wednesday, the presiding officers of the Oregon Legislature announced a new collaboration with local banks and credit unions to put extra cash in the pockets of eligible Oregonians. According to a press release, eligibility requirements include:

●      Being a current resident of Oregon 18 years or older.

●      Being able to prove identity and residency.

●      Can attest they are experiencing severe financial hardship because of the pandemic orders.

●      Have earned less than a pre-tax income of $4,000 a month or less before experiencing lost or reduced income because of the pandemic.

●      Haven’t received all unemployment payments they’re owed.

Those who think they qualify should check https://emergencychecks.oregon.gov, which includes directions to the nearest participating bank or credit union’s website as well as instructions on how to apply.

Oregon’s unemployment rate stands at 10.4% following a wave of job losses caused by the pandemic. The state’s unemployment insurance system has been overwhelmed by the sharp rise in claims and the initiative is the latest to provide relief for Oregonians.

“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,” House Speaker Tina Kotek said in a statement. “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.”

The $35 million used to fund the program came from Oregon’s share of the federal pandemic relief package passed by Congress this spring. It’s expected to provide relief to about 70,000 Oregonians. The program, which launched Wednesday morning, will continue as long as funding is available.

According to the program’s website, six financial institutions in Salem are participating. They include:

●      Umpqua Bank. 245 Commercial St. S.E.

●      Umpqua Bank. 2710 Commercial St. S.E.

●      Oregon Community Credit Union. 2755 Commercial St. S.E. #104

●      SELCO Community Credit Union. 3833 Commercial St. S.E.

●      OnPoint Community Credit Union. 645 9TH St. N.W., Suite 185

●      Central Willamette Credit Union 852 Lancaster Dr. S.E.

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Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.