SALEM, Ore. — In less that three days, a program designed to get emergency funding to Oregonians still struggling to receive unemployment benefits has been depleted, according to state lawmakers.
The program launched on Wednesday, offering eligible Oregonians a $500 payment to tide them over while still waiting on hold-ups at the Oregon Employment Department. In many cases, people began lining up outside of participating credit unions and banks in an effort to receive their checks.
According to lawmakers, the relief check program offered 70,000 total payments — all of which have now been accounted for.
“These last couple days have put a spotlight on just how dire the need is all across the state,” House Speaker Tina Kotek said. “We have to get more money to help people. The federal government has the ability to make direct stimulus payments to Americans whose lives are in jeopardy and are not doing so. I find this incredibly frustrating and disappointing.”
The program is set to "wind down" Friday morning, with financial institutions given a final funding allotment cap for the day. They will not be able to accept new walk-in applications once they hit that cap, though previously scheduled appointments will continue through the end of the month.
“I want to thank the financial institutions that have stepped up in an emergency and are continuing to work so hard to get money into the hands of desperate Oregonians,” Senate President Peter Courtney said. “We’ve said from the beginning that we know this is not enough money to help all of those in need. But we had to take action to get money directly to people as quickly as possible and this is a tremendous example of Oregonians pitching in to help our most vulnerable.”
Almost 40,000 payments were delivered within the first two days. According to lawmakers, 62 percent of those payments went to zip codes outside of the Portland Metro area.
"The offices of the House Speaker and Senate President will follow up with more detailed information and data about the program as soon as it is available, including which geographic locations were served," the lawmakers said.