Volunteers package fresh produce for families in need | Megan Zabel Holmes

Impact highlight

COVID / Safety Net

In addition to the wildfires, thousands of families across our region continued to grapple with the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the high level of need in our community, we continued our Safety Net grants to vetted nonprofit partners across our four counties (Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington Counties, OR and Clark County, WA). The majority of these funds supported kids and families through rent and utilities assistance, access to food pantries as well as tax preparation services so families could receive Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

In the fall, we worked with the Portland Housing Bureau to launch the COVID-19 Household Assistance Program, publicly known as PDX Assist. Through this program, struggling Portlanders were able to apply for $500 in direct financial assistance to help pay for urgent needs including food, medical bills and utilities. Launched during one of the toughest points during the pandemic, PDX Assist also focused on better serving communities of color and low-income communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The PDX Assist program provided emergency assistance funds to over 30,000 individuals in Portland.

When we received federal funds for COVID relief, we knew we needed to get these funds into the hands of Portlanders struggling from the financial impacts of the pandemic. We partnered with United Way of the Columbia-Willamette because of their critical role in our community. Their ability to bring everyone together helped make it possible for us to work with public agencies and community-based organizations in a pandemic environment to distribute $18 million to individuals and families in need. The benefit cards allowed community members to cover urgent needs from food to medical bills to utilities during one of the toughest times we have faced together as a community.

Shannon Callahan, Director, Portland Housing Bureau

I was beyond thankful. I still can’t believe it. This made such an impact on me…that someone that I didn’t know was so willing to help during a time like this.

Emilee, recipient of United Way support

families received short-term rent & utility assistance through pooled funding
in COVID-19 relief funds distributed, including to 3,975 individuals experiencing houselessness
received in EITC tax credits for 931 families

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