Woodburn fuels COVID-19 funding programs
The city of Woodburn has partnered with a number of entities, including area nonprofits, with aims to keep the community solvent on multiple platforms throughout the pandemic.
On Monday, Nov. 9, several city employees apprised Woodburn City Council of efforts in progress that collectively infuse the community with hundreds of thousands of dollars, primarily directed toward economic downturns attendant to closures and restrictions in battling the spread of COVID-19.
The focus is vast: business assistance, food security, mortgage assistance, rental assistance, utility assistance, internet assistance, childcare payment assistance, personal protective equipment and education materials and public transit.
Woodburn Economic Development Director Jamie Johnk said many businesses began feeling the pinch from the onset of the outbreak. Using $50,000 from city general fund money and another $10,000 raised by Woodburn Rotary, the city was able to help 53 businesses initially with small grants ranging from $500 to $2,000.
More city money became available through CARES as well as funds from Business Oregon as the city continues to distribute grants to help struggling businesses stay afloat. The business assistance program has $180,000 total funding.
"We're doing everything as a community and as a city that we can to help support and foster those businesses in our community," Johnk said.
Woodburn Recreation and Parks Manager Jesse Cuomo said a $20,000 grant from Northwest Senior Disability Services funded the food security platform, administered through AWARE Food Bank.
"This funding specifically had a focus on food security for seniors within the Latinex and Indigenous-language communities, and so at this time the program is still being administered by AWARE," Cuomo said, adding that they have also provided educational materials while working with AWARE Director Gabby Pena.
The mortgage assistance program consists of $413,000 sourced through the city's Housing Rehabilitation Funding Reallocation, administered through DevNW.
"You may remember this is a no-interest loan that while the loan is in place there are not any payments or interest due on that, and the borrower repays the loan back at the time that the home is either sold or refinanced," Woodburn Community Relations Manager Maricela Guerrero told the council. "The goal of this program is to keep people in their homes."
The maximum allocation per household is $20,000.
Mortgage assistance is a revolving fund; when the funds are paid back they go back into the program and recirculate.
CARES also furnished $50,000 for rental and internet assistance, which is distributed through the nonprofit Love INC. The maximum allocation per participant is $2,500.
Cuomo said internet assistance was tied into this program since many people are working or getting their education remotely during the pandemic.
Marion County and Oregon Health Authority furnished $225,000 ($150k and $75k respectively) for assistance with utilities, childcare and prescriptions, which is also distributed through Love INC.
"A lot of the funding that was coming available for COVID-19 was tied to nonprofits and community-based organizations," Cuomo said. "And that is why you see us working with...AWARE, Woodburn Downtown Associations and Love INC; to find groups within our community who have the skill set and can help them through the grant process."
The city is working with Woodburn Downtown Association on the PPE and education assistance program, funded with $95,265 from OHA. Included in it are plastic sneeze guards, face coverings, physical distancing monitors and personal hand sanitizers.
"We are actually working with two local Russian fabric stores as well as Russian seamstresses to make more culturally relevant facial coverings and get that education out there," Cuomo said.
Since the onset of the pandemic the city has gone to a non-fee public transit system. The city received nearly $140,000 from the Federal Transit Administration, distributed via ODOT. Among other uses, the funds have helped implement stricter transit sanitation and safety procedures necessitated by the virus.
The total assistance amount presented to the council was $1,123,261.
"Really, the number I am extremely proud of and the team and all of these amazing nonprofits that are doing to the work, is the 1.12 million dollars that we have been able to help bring into our community," Cuomo said. "I'm so proud of the way were able to find these funds and find partners to come along side with us."
City Administrator Scott Derickson added that the city recently received a $45,000 grant from ODOT to assist with medical transportation.
"Funding from the state for our traditional services is going to going to be sketchy as the state starts to suffer under the impacts of COVID, too," Derickson said. "Certainly our transportation program has been financially touch and go over the past few years. This $45,000 will help us maintain the medical transport program, which quite a few people rely on to get to the doctor; to get pharmaceuticals and other things. So we're really happy to get that news."
Derickson applauded the how the team of city employees shifted gears from their usual tasks to find, ensure and garner funding for the programs. He also stressed that community residents with needs should reach out and seek it.
"If you hear of people in need, refer them to us and we will do our best to get them help," Cuomo echoed.
Spokeswoman Monica Davis: "We can help people with utilities, rent, prescriptions child care and water.
'They can call Love Inc. and share that they are in need of assistance. Eligibility is simply anyone who has been effected by COVID."
AWARE Food Bank
City of Woodburn
DevNW office locations:
528 Cottage St., N.E. No. 304, Salem; 421 High St., No. 110, Oregon City.
Woodburn Downtown Association
P.O. Box 988, Woodburn, OR 97071
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