A grant to help greater Portland cope with the impacts of COVID-19 awarded its first round of funding earlier this week.
The Metro Council COVID-19 Community Fund will award $17,000 to 13 nonprofits that are providing direct support to people and families in need of food and shelter. Grant funds will primarily focus on food security for people around Metro’s service area.
More than 70 requests for funding were submitted, underscoring the growing need for services around greater Portland, said Metro Councilor Christine Lewis, who was one of three councilors on the grant review team.
“All of us need to work together to meet the challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lewis said. “These grants are a very small part of that, but will make a big difference in the lives of those who will receive support from the funding.”
Most of the grants will go to buy food for people in need, particularly food delivered through culturally-specific organizations, like the African Refugee Immigrant Organization. That organization’s director, Hussein Idow, said they have received a lot of requests from people who are in the waiting list who need food, rental and utility assistance.
“This grant will help African and Immigrant families in Metro region who lost their wages to provide culturally-specific food to sustain their families,” Idow said. “With this grant, we will prioritize bigger families who are impacted by COVID-19 who have greater need and families who face food insecurity.”
Pamela Padilla, development manager of the Latino Network, encouraged other community members to join in giving this December to support people affected by the pandemic in greater Portland.
“With Metro's support, we can ensure that client assistance is distributed to families of color and vulnerable populations that often rely on our programs for basic needs in times of crisis,” Padilla said. “We urge community members to please consider donating to organizations that offer direct client assistance to BIPOC communities if they are able to this holiday season.”
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Clackamas Service Center - $1,000
Clackamas Service Center is an inclusive, "one-stop" community center for individuals and families seeking food relief and resources for improved health, dignity, and stability. CSC is experiencing unprecedented demand for supplemental groceries while supply chain disruptions have made food donations scarce. Support from the COVID-19 community support fund will help to purchase more groceries to ensure food stability for the most vulnerable.
Hope Food Pantry - $1,000
Based in Oregon City, Hope Food Pantry provide supplemental food to individuals and families that meet the financial requirements established by the USDA to receive support. Hope Food Pantry receives support from the Oregon Food Bank but food availability has been inconsistent this year. Funds from this program will be used to purchase additional groceries to support an average of 57 families that visit Hope Food Pantry each Friday.
Clackamas Women's Services - $1,000
Clackamas Women's Services (CWS) services survivors of domestic and sexual violence throughout the Portland Metro area. Keeping families safe from interpersonal violence, while also reducing exposure to and the spread of the coronavirus, has been CWS's top priority since the onset of the pandemic. Funds would be used to help distribute food, temporary lodging and other essential items to participants.
Voz Workers' Rights Education Project - $1,000
Voz is a worker-led organization that empowers diverse day laborers and immigrants to improve their working conditions. Funding would be used to sustain their food pantry by purchasing culturally-relevant staple foods distributed to day laborers and their families, as well as clothing and tents for houseless members.
Snack Bloc - $1,000
Snack Bloc supports three C3PO (Creating Conscious Communities with People Outside) camps; two located in SE Portland and one in NW Portland by providing food and essential items to individuals in need. Funding would be used to provide food stability for the up to 200 residents weekly as well as support for small business recovery by paying local BIPOC-owned restaurants for meal services.
African Refugee Immigrant Organization (ARIO) - $2,000
Provides culturally specific service to African and immigrant families and youth new to the United States living in the Portland Metro area. Funding would be used to purchase and distribute culturally specific food with the goal of serving up to 600 families.
Boys & Girls Club of Portland Metro Area - $2,000
The Boys & Girls Club of Portland Metro Area, provides parents and caregivers of youth members with snacks and dinner at the club. Many of the youth and families come from the lowest income and highest student achievement gaps in the region like Rockwood, SE Hillsboro, MLK Blvd and Lents. Funding would be used to support the weekly food and supply distribution program at their four locations which serves up to 200 youth and their families.
Latino Network - $2,000
Since the onset of the pandemic, Latino Network has mobilized a rapid response system to disperse direct client assistance to over 300 families, with an average of three children per household. Most families received direct funding based on need. Funding would be used to distribute direct resources to families in need of food, rent assistance, access to medical care and childcare with a 15% administrative cost to support staff in administering the program.
Neighborhood House - $1,000
Neighborhood House operates the largest food pantry in Portland's west side launching a delivery service in March which was ramped up due to the onset of the pandemic. To date 5,000 food boxes have been delivered. Funding would be used to support a joint effort of the Neighborhood House Food Pantry and Senior Programs to address food insecurity among vulnerable seniors across the metro area.
Pride Northwest, Inc. - $2,000
Pride Northwest, Inc. provides direct support and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community in the Portland Metro area. Pride Northwest, Inc. is a partner in supporting the C3PO (Creating Conscious Communities with People Outside) camps. Funding will be used to support the logistics needs of winterizing the C3PO camps.
Bienestar - $1,000
Bienestar owns and operates 12 affordable multi-family properties housing more than 500 families in Washington Co. Over 95% of its residents are Latinx, and many are immigrants and/or farm workers. During the onset of the pandemic Bienestar created several programs to support residents with direct funding resources, PPE and educational programs to keep people safe. Funding will be used to continue the emergency relief fund expanding distribution across Hillsboro and Washington Co. to cover rent and utilities.
Just Compassion of East Washington Co. - $1,000
Just Compassion is a coalition of religious organizations, businesses, non-profits and individuals providing support to houseless individuals. Core members of Just Compassion operate overnight severe weather shelters throughout Washington Co. Just Compassion volunteers are primarily in the vulnerable age bracket which has curtailed their ability to fully staff shelters. Funding would be used to hire additional stipend employees to provide programs and overnight services at the shelters.
Community Assistance DBA Helping Hands - $1,000
Based out of Sunset Presbyterian Church in northern Washington Co., Community Assistance DBA Helping Hands operates a food pantry and clothing closet that serves community members primarily from Washington Co. non-affiliated with the church. COVID-19 has caused an increase demand for food banks and the Oregon Food Bank has struggled to supply local pantries like Helping Hands. Funding would be used to purchase food for the pantry which serves about 70 families each week.