SALEM, Ore. — Wednesday marks the beginning of a state program designed to get $500 one-time payments to Oregonians who have been impacted by COVID-19 but have yet to receive unemployment benefits.
Though the Oregon Employment Department says it has largely caught up on the backlog of unprocessed claims, many people are still waiting on benefits — particularly self-employed or contract workers applying for benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program established by the federal CARES Act.
Lawmakers floated the idea of emergency relief payments in early July, and the Legislative Emergency Board funded the proposal alongside other relief measures less than a week later.
“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,” said House Speaker Tina Kotek. “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 emergency relief check program involves a partnership between the Oregon legislature and credit unions around the state; the latter of which have been charged with taking applications and distributing the funds until they run out.
Locally, Rogue Credit Union and Umpqua Bank will handle those applications. Oregonians who think they may qualify can go to the state website to find the nearest participating credit union or bank, which will direct them to the financial institution's page to apply.
“Rogue was founded by people who believed that together, we’re stronger. We’re here for our communities during tough times, and we’re proud to help facilitate access to emergency relief funds that many Southern Oregonians need,” said Rogue Credit Union president & CEO, Gene Pelham.
Oregonians do not need to be a member of the bank or credit union to apply, though it appears that online-only applications may be limited to members in at least some cases.
To be eligible for a payment, a person must:
- 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 $4,000/month or less pre-tax prior to their income loss due to COVID-19.
- Not have received all unemployment payments they are owed.
Here's a full list of participating banks and credit unions: Central Willamette Credit Union, Clackamas Federal Credit Union, InRoads Community Credit Union, Old West Federal Credit Union, OnPoint Community Credit Union, Oregon Community Credit Union, Rogue Credit Union, SELCO Community Credit Union, Umpqua Bank, and Columbia Bank.