By SARA CLINE
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregonians still waiting for their unemployment benefits can apply for a one-time payment of $500 beginning Wednesday.
The $35 million relief check program, that was approved by lawmakers in mid-July, could help up to 70,000 Oregon residents facing financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The virus, which has infected thousands of Oregonians and killed nearly 400, has also caused a surge in unemployment. More than 500,000 people have filed unemployment claims since the start of the pandemic, causing major delays in people receiving funds.
The purpose of the new relief program, which would use funds from the CARES Act, is to provide support to Oregonians while the agency continues to work through its backlog.
“After months of hearing from increasingly desperate Oregonians who were doing everything right and still not getting the unemployment they were owed, we hope this effort offers a streamlined way for some financial relief,” House Speaker Tina Kotek said Wednesday. “The state is stepping up, and I hope Congress will act soon to provide more support that is desperately needed.”
People eligible for a relief check must have made less than $4,000 before taxes per month before losing a job, be an Oregon resident, be 18 or older and the employer must have closed or the person’s income “decreased significantly because of executive actions by Gov. Kate Brown to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
People are not eligible for the program if their unemployment benefits are up to date.