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The Portland Housing Bureau also creates an Emergency Household Stabilization Fund to help households meet basic needs.

KOIN NEWS 6 - Mayor Ted wheeler at the Monday morning press conference.Portland is increasing emergency assistance to small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 crisis with the help of seven banks in the local area.

Mayor Ted Wheeler, Umpqua Bank President and CEO Cort O'Haver, and city bureau heads announced the increase during a press conference on Monday, March 30. Wheeler said the assistance is just the beginning of the city's efforts to help small businesses that have been forced to cut back and close, especially those owned by women and minorities.

"I am incredibly proud of how Portlanders are looking out for each other during these unprecedent and challenging times," Wheeler said. "The actions, generosity and willingness of our private partners to join the city in our effort to generate emergency funding is helping bring immediate relief to those in our community who are struggling during this pandemic."

The press conference was held as more than two dozen businesses hurt by a sharp downturn in sales — caused by the novel coronavirus that causes the disease — began to receive the first city-sponsored relief grants previously approved by the City Council. Nearly $200,000 will be distributed among 31 businesses in Southeast Portland's Jade District and Northwest Portland's Old Town Chinatown. All will receive at least $5,000. The grants were prioritized to Asian-owned businesses after owners reported their revenues had dropped by as much as 60%, which some have blamed as a backlash to "Chinese flu" labeling.

At the press conference, Wheeler said the city is now taking applications for grants from a $2 million Small Business Relief Fund administered by Prosper Portland, formerly known as the Portland Development Commission. Of that amount, $1 million is general fund dollars approved by the council last week and $1 million is being provided by banks and others in the business community, including $70,000 from Umpqua Bank.

Applications will close at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1.

Applications soon will be accepted for $1.75 million of small business loans. Funding includes $1 million in Prosper Portland Enterprise Funds and an additional $500,000 from Umpqua Bank, for a total contribution to the city of $750,000.

"Small businesses are the heart of Portland and Oregon's economy, and they're experiencing unprecedented disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic," O'Haver said. "At a time when so many across our region are experiencing unprecedented financial disruption it's more important than ever that small businesses know Portland's broader business community stands behind them. We're all in this together and Umpqua and all the Oregon state charter banks are here to help."

Participating banks

The banks and their contributions are as follows: Bank of America, $40,000; Columbia Bank, $10,000; JPMorgan Chase, $50,000; Key Bank, $35,000; Umpqua Bank, $75,000 (grants)/$675,000 (loans); U.S. Bank, $50,000; and Wells Fargo, $125,000.

The grants and loans will be up to $10,000 per business. Wheeler said other banks also have promised similar contributions to the city that will be announced soon.

The new grants and loans will be targeted at businesses owned by women, African-Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and indigenous peoples and other people of color, under the city's equity policies.

Wheeler said Portland expects to make more assistance available soon, including after it receives expected emergency financial assistance from the federal and state governments.

In addition, Portland Housing Bureau Director Shannon Callahan announced the creation of an Emergency Household Stabilization Fund. The fund will reallocate $1 million from the bureau's budget to provide emergency support to households impacted by the pandemic.

"The Emergency Household Stabilization Fund will support between 1,800 and 2,000 households with up to $500 in direct assistance for food, medication, rent support and other urgent household needs," Callahan said. "The bureau is working in close partnership with Multnomah County and Home Forward to rapidly and effectively deploy these resources into the hands of those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Learn more about the Small Business Relief Fund here.


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