Oregon Worker Relief Fund Directs More Than $10 Million in Aid to Immigrant Oregonians Since May

Steady flow of applications demonstrates the financial need among immigrant families remains great

PORTLAND, Ore.— The organizations that created the Oregon Worker Relief Fund (OWRF) announced Thursday that the fund has now delivered more than $10 million in disaster relief throughout Oregon’s immigrant communities since it launched on May 10. As of July 1st, the fund has disbursed $8.6 million in payments.  Anonymized data compiled by Innovation Law Lab shows that more than 5,000 individuals have received aid, with payments averaging $1,712. 

“Thousands of Oregon immigrants have lost their livelihoods due to COVID-19 and Congress has intentionally excluded them from financial assistance programs,” said OWRF Chair Martha Sonato. “Each day, we receive hundreds of applications for assistance and we don’t have the resources to offer relief to all those who need it. The need for financial support — from the state, from foundations, and from private donors — is as great today as it was in May.”

The Oregon Worker Relief Fund is the result of collaboration between Causa Oregon, PCUN, Latino Network, Innovation Law Lab, MRG Foundation, Lower Columbia Hispanic Council, and APANO, along with more than 100 community partners across the state. Funds are disbursed to immigrants in Oregon who are facing financial hardships due to COVID-19, but were excluded from federal stimulus relief or Unemployment Insurance due to their immigration status. Navigators from 20 community-based organizations are processing thousands of applications each week.

“The longer this pandemic lasts, the more families it impacts, with a disproportionate burden on immigrant communities across Oregon,” said Causa Oregon Executive Director Adriana Miranda. “Despite the progress we’ve made in issuing relief payments, most applicants have been waiting five weeks or more since they lost income. The more support we receive from local officials, businesses, and the community, the more people we can help.”

OWRF Chair Martha Sonato and Causa Oregon Executive Director Adriana Miranda are available for interviews about the statewide effort to distribute payments directly to immigrant Oregonians and the continued need for financial relief.  To schedule an interview, please contact Mike Westling at mike@brinkcomm.com or 503.498.8161. 

Most relief recipients work in essential industries

Oregonians receiving relief through the OWRF are among the state’s essential workers, with the majority of relief recipients working in food service and agriculture and significant portions working in the janitorial industry, construction, and child care.

Full breakdown of relief recipients by employment industry:

Food Service37%
Janitorial & Housekeeping20%
Child Care3%

The OWRF coalition has developed an innovative, rapid-response infrastructure to reach community members across the entire state while adhering to all public health recommendations. The fund has delivered aid rapidly while maintaining data security and privacy. To date, 29% of payments have been delivered instantly by mobile phone.

Oregonian immigrant families served in the first two months by the OWRF ranged in size from single-person households to large families: 81% supported minor children; 63% had at least two dependent minor children; separately, 73% had dependent adults.

“The consequences of this pandemic for immigrant Oregonians are heartbreaking,” said OWRF SPOKESPERSON from CBO. “Many families in our area are struggling to put food on the table or pay their rent. One mom told me she might need to sell her car to be able to feed her kids, but she worried that would mean she couldn’t get to work once COVID restrictions are lifted. Every dollar we raise is helping our friends and neighbors get through this crisis.”

The latest Oregon Worker Relief Fund data report includes information about relief payments by geography, industry, age, as well as other merics. Innovation Law Lab will continue to produce reports at the beginning of each month, available at workerrelief.org/about.