Apply for a towing hardship

Hardship fund managed by Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) for victims of auto theft and others living on low income needing to retrieve towed and impounded vehicles. Provides up to $300 for towing and storage expenses, while funds last. Qualifying criteria, appeal process explained.
Photo of a blue sedan connected by a wire to the bed of a tow truck.

10-15 minutes for online application, 3 business days for review

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PBOT’s Regulatory division manages a hardship fund to help victims of auto theft and those living on a low income so they can more easily retrieve their towed and impounded vehicles within Portland city limits. Money for the fund comes from a $5 surcharge on tows collected as part of the city’s towing contracts.

The city will pay up to $300 in towing and storage fees for applicants who qualify, while the fund lasts. Funds are paid to the towing/impounding company, not the applicant.

How to apply

Those requesting a towing hardship must apply within 5 business days of the tow and before you've retrieved your vehicle.

Applicants must demonstrate the following:

  • Proof of vehicle ownership - This benefit is for registered vehicle owners ONLY and are not transferable. Valid photo ID required.
  • Valid auto insurance
  • No outstanding parking citations 

Additionally, applicants must provide proof of ONE of the following:

  • Victim of auto theft (with copy of police report); OR
  • Eligible for any one of the following programs:
    • SNAP benefits, such as an EBT card
    • WIC Program for women, infants, and children
    • Student financial aid acceptance/approval
    • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or approval letter
    • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
    • PBOT’s Transportation Wallet Access for All program

Applicants may not apply more than once in a 2-year period (except for victims of auto theft).

After you apply

PBOT’s Towing Administration staff will review and issue a determination within 3 business days, although extenuating circumstances could extend this timeline.

If approved, PBOT will cover up to $300 directly to the towing/impounding company on behalf of the registered vehicle owner for towing and storage fees. PBOT issues a voucher to the tower via Auto Return and to the vehicle owner via email. Vehicles can typically be picked up within the hour.

Appeals and exceptions

If PBOT denies your application for a towing hardship, you may request a special review by emailing

PBOT Regulatory management will make a final determination within 2 business days and may grant an exception to the process if appropriate.