Many utilities have suspended disconnections and late fees during the pandemic, and/or are offering financial assistance to impacted customers. Please check your provider for specific details.
- The Oregon Health Authority shared this list of things you can do to take care of your mental health during this difficult time.
- White Bird Crisis Line: 541-687-4000
- The Crisis Text Line: text TALK to 741741
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK.
- Helping Out Teens in Schools (HOOTS)
Crime victim services
Access to unemployment insurance and workers compensation has been expanded. The most current guidance is here.
- File online and you do not need to call in to check on its status;
- The Employment Department will contact you to complete the process;
- Email OED_COVID19_info@oregon.gov if you have a question, but if the question is about the status of your claim, please know that they will contact you to complete the process
Work Share - Alternative to Layoffs When times are tough, Work Share provides Oregon businesses an alternative to layoffs. This newly streamlined program allows employers to leverage unemployment insurance (UI) to subsidize a portion of lost wages for employers whose work time is reduced due to market downturns or other business stressors.
Sick Time and Oregon Family Leave
The Bureau of Labor and Industries website has all the latest information on sick time and job protections in Oregon.
SAIF has created a $10 million coronavirus worker safety fund that will help Oregon employers pay for expenses tied to making workplaces safer during this time. The fund is designed to support employee safety, reduce injuries, and decrease hazardous exposures by helping businesses most impacted by the coronavirus. All SAIF policy holders are eligible for the program. More information is available here.
The Employment Related Daycare (ERDC) program has made changes, eliminating the family copay and increasing the maximum income thresholds for eligibility - the new, increased income guidelines are available on their website by family size. Providers are also able to continue billing under certain circumstances during temporary closures and for children who are not attending due to the current crisis. Providers, parents, and caretakers with questions can contact the Direct Pay Unit at DHS at 1-800-699-9074.
- Apply for emergency related day care through the Oregon Department of Human Services.
- Oregon Early Learning Division has provided resources for families and child care providers who may face virus-related disruptions.
- Governor Kate Brown has expanded child care benefits for families and providers during the spread of COVID-19.
- For childcare providers who are interested in providing emergency childcare: you may apply with the Early Learning Division here. For questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-342-6712
Filing your 2019 tax return can also provide a quick financial lift. While federal and state filing has been postponed until July 15, please remember that there's no point in delaying filing if you are due money. If you file and are owed a refund, it will be paid. Keep in mind that we had a significant kicker this year and both the state and federal governments have an Earned Income Tax Credit, so you may be entitled to a refund, even if you don't usually get one. Also, you may be eligible for free filing online. Check here.
Tax relief information from the Oregon Department of Revenue
Federal CARES Act
Direct payments of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child; see who qualifies here.
The IRS announced that later this month it will launch a second online application, dubbed "Get My Payment," that will allow taxpayers who didn't set up direct deposit tax returns to submit their banking information to receive their money faster. The tool will also allow taxpayers to track the status of their payment. For non-filers – people with too little income to need to file, the IRS already has a website set up. HOWEVER, I strongly encourage everyone to file a tax return anyway. It's free for low income people and you never know when you might be eligible for a refundable tax credit.
Small business assistance
The Governor has created a Small Business Resource Navigator housed within Business Oregon. This will help connect small businesses to financial support and information they need to stay in business through the COVID-19 crisis. The Resource Navigator contains comprehensive information on key programs for small businesses.
The Small Business Administration, working directly and through local lenders, provides forgivable loans for businesses and non-profits impacted by COVID-19 and the measures to prevent it. The Payment Protection Program (PPP) provides total loan size is up to 2.5x the average monthly employee expense at up to 4% for up to 10 years for small businesses, to include self-employed, sole proprietorships, and independent contractors. Perhaps most important, these loans are forgivable for costs of payroll, rent, mortgage interest, and utility for up to 8 weeks. In effect, Uncle Sam wants to pay your rent, utilities, payroll, and benefits for up to 8 weeks of the crisis so that your business can bounce back quickly. These expenses are retroactive to February 15, 2020, making it possible to recall laid off employees. Contact your lender to apply. While they may not be ready to accept applications for a week or two, having the items they request in hand will expedite your application.
For smaller businesses, including sole proprietorships and contractors, the SBA will provide a $10,000 grant and up to a $2 million loan through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Interested parties should apply through the SBA. The $10,000 grant usually is approved within hours and does not require continuing with taking sums under the loan program, although the loan application must be completed. Businesses that choose to take a loan under this program may defer the payments for up to 4 years. Impacted businesses may apply for both the PPP and EIDL programs.
Oregon's existing network of community college-associated Small Business Development Centers provides free counseling regarding new and existing options. Both Lane and Linn Benton Community Colleges host these centers, which continue to operate remotely during this period of social distancing. E-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for help. The SCORE network provides free mentoring for those who would like assistance from another local executive. Answers are available for the asking!
Federal student loan payments may be suspended for 60 days under a recent announcement. This does not happen automatically, but does include setting the interest rate at zero until at least May. Contact your loan servicer to take advantage of this break.
The Humane Society has an FAQ with resources for pet owners here. The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association has answers to your animal health questions here. For those of you considering adopting a furry friend, most animal shelters are closed to the public, but you can still call to get an appointment to adopt. If you have horses and need help feeding them, the Oregon Hay Bank would like to help.
Stay Home, Save Lives
Governor Brown's March 23 Executive Order 20-12 directed all non-essential businesses to close. Specific guidance as to which businesses must close can be found in the order. All businesses that are remaining open must implement social distancing. If you have concerns your workplace is not following the guidelines, you may report violations to OSHA here.
- Local retailers are designating specific shopping times for elderly and at-risk individuals
- Avoiding Price Gouging During the Coronavirus - People should be able to get the critical supplies they need without getting ripped off. This guide warns consumers about severe price gouging on online marketplaces like Amazon, and instructs on how to identify reasonably priced, effective supplies during the outbreak.
- Educating children at home
- Identifying Coronavirus Phishing Scams - As this pandemic intensifies, scammers and spies have seized on people's fear and confusion to steal their private or financial data. This guide lays out the known phishing scams related to the coronavirus and some tips for how consumers can identify new scams and protect themselves.
- Dos and Don'ts of Coronavirus Protection - Recently, there's been a lot of misinformation circulating about how to protect from the coronavirus outbreak, and some companies are even taking advantage of this crisis to market public health and cleaning products that do not work. This guide separates fact from fiction to help consumers keep safe without falling victim to false claims.
- Refunding Your Travel During COVID-19 - Calls for social distancing and limiting travel amid the growing crisis has many Americans wondering how to recoup the costs from cancelled travel plans. Our guide breaks down how top airlines and hotels have adjusted their policies and provides instructions for how consumers can refund their bookings with each respective company.