COVID-19 Risk Level for Multnomah County: High Risk

CARES Act Funding

The City of Portland received $114 million from the federal government to help the community mitigate the impacts from COVID-19. Through considerate decision making, the City has allocated the majority of funds to household and housing stability, as well as relief for small businesses.

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CARES Act Background

In late April 2020, the City of Portland received $114 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds from the federal government, along with the following guidance:

  • Funds had to be allocated to the community by December 31, 2020.
  • Funds could only be used for expenses related to COVID-19 that were incurred between March 1 – December 30, 2020.
  • Funds could not be used to backfill revenue shortfalls.

These funds were sent to the City to ensure our community members and small businesses could receive direct help during this time of great need. To aid in the decision-making process, City leaders created the PDX CARES Task Force to lead allocation decisions and consulted community based organizations to ensure the needs of Black people, Indigenous people and people of color (BIPOC) were represented in these conversations.

After reviewing a range of options on how to best use these funds, Portland’s City Council determined that investing in our region’s public health response and meeting the immediate needs of our community were the highest and best use of these funds. From household and small business assistance programs to bridging the digital divide, these funds will provide a lifeline to struggling Portlanders. 

Proposed Allocations

With the federal government’s guidance in mind, the City of Portland moved quickly to propose the following allocations to help our most vulnerable community members and small business owners, as well as support joint pandemic response efforts with local government partners. 

On July 22, 2020, the City held a work session to approve allocations. Though the City had to reserve some money to cover emergency response expenses, 90% of the available funds were directed to be distributed directly to the community. Here is the final breakdown:

  • $32 million for household and housing stability
  • $20 million for Multnomah County’s public health response
  • $16.5 million for supporting Portland’s homeless community
  • $15 million for small business relief and $4.35 million for arts and culture

As COVID-19 widened existing inequalities, City Council decided to prioritize programs that addressed the immediate needs of BIPOC communities, people with disabilities, people in the houseless community, and our most vulnerable Portlanders.

This is a graphic representation of how CARES Act funds have been categorized. $37 million have been set aside for household assistance and stability. $20 million are going to public health, while $19 million are going to homeless response. $15 million has been earmarked for business support.