Oregon Credit Unions to Help State Distribute Emergency Funds to Oregonians

The state asked and, once again, several credit unions answered the call.

8/18/2020

No one escaped the impact of COVID-19. For those hit financially, these are especially difficult times. The Oregon Legislature approved $35 million to provide one-time $500 relief payments to Oregonians facing those hardships. The state asked the private sector to help get that money into the hands of consumers who most need it, and several credit unions agreed to lend a helping hand.

Participating credit unions include:

“For families with lost income and no unemployment benefits, this relief can’t come fast enough, and credit unions are stepping up to help once again,” said Pamela Leavitt, the Northwest Credit Union Association’s Policy Advisor for Oregon State Advocacy. “This is about people helping people.”

The program will be launched this week. Consumers may be eligible if they:
  • Are a current resident of Oregon;
  • Attest to being over the age of 18 — date of birth will be noted on the application form;
  • Are experiencing severe financial hardship due to the Governor’s Executive Orders 20-17 or 20-12, or indirect hardship due to the orders;
  • Earned $4,000 or less per month pre-tax prior to their income loss due to COVID-19; and
  • Are not current on their unemployment payments.
    • Current means they have received all payments for weeks claimed except for the current claim week. Applicants should count base payments for traditional Unemployment Insurance and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program – not the $600 enhanced payments that ended July 31.
    • Applicants may be eligible if they never applied for or were denied unemployment.
    • Applicants may be eligible if they are not current on unemployment benefits but have since returned to work.
If non-participating credit unions receive inquires, they should:
  • Direct consumers to the state’s emergency checks website where participating institutions will be listed (please note the webpage will not be live until the evening of Aug. 18);
  • Direct them to dial 2-1-1 — a live operator will refer them to the branch location(s) nearest to them by zip code; or
  • Assist them navigating the website to find a location nearby.

While the state and participating financial institutions worked hard behind the scenes to quickly iron out logistics, the plan was to create a turnkey process for consumers.

“We wanted to make this with as low a barrier as possible,” said Lisa Taylor, a spokesperson for Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem), in a media interview.

The payments program is the second recent collaboration between Oregon credit unions and state government. A group of four CDFI credit unions is helping to distribute $1.7 million in grants to small businesses that did not receive federal COVID-19 relief. The deadline for applications for those grants has been extended until Sept. 13.

“Clearly,” Leavitt said, “the legislature trusts Oregon credit unions to help Main Street. Time after time, credit unions live their people-first mission.”

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