State’s $500 Relief Check Program Depleted after 3 Days

After less than three days, the state’s new program offering one-time relief payments of $500 to Oregonians impacted by the coronavirus shutdowns has run out of cash.

The program was also designed to help the thousands who still have not had their full unemployment claims processed — some of whom have been waiting since March.

With $35 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars allocated to the program, the unique public-private partnership would allow approximately 70,000 Oregonians to receive checks.

With those in need reportedly lined up for two and three blocks at participating credit unions throughout the Portland metro area, they hit that number in three days, and the program was already winding down as of Friday morning.

Participating financial institutions had a final funding allotment cap for the day and were not accepting new walk-in applications once they reached the allotment cap. Previously scheduled appointments would continue through the end of the month, legislative leaders said, but new appointments will not be made.

“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.”

After two days, the program delivered funds to payments to nearly 40,000 eligible Oregonians in need. On the first day of the program, 62% of $500 payments went to ZIP codes outside the Portland Metropolitan Area, according to the offices of Courney and House Speaker Tina Kotek.

“These last couple days have put a spotlight on just how dire the need is all across the state,” 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 offices of the house speaker and senate president say they will follow up with more detailed information and data about the program as soon as it is available, including which geographic locations were served.

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