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City Council will consider proposal to invest $63.6 million from American Rescue Plan for COVID-19 relief in Portland

News Article
The ordinance prioritizes houselessness response and household stabilization, small business support, community health and safety.


City Council voted unanimously on July 28, 2021, to approve allocation of the City of Portland's federal American Rescue Plan funding.

City Council will consider a proposal on July 28 to invest $63.6 million of federal American Rescue Plan funding to help Portland households, businesses and communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic recession.

These investments build on $40.4 million already committed in the financial year 2021-2022 budget approved by City Council in June, accounting for the full $104 million in Portland’s first allocation from the American Rescue Plan. An additional $104 million is expected to be available in 2022.  

Developed by the Economic Relief and Stabilization Coordinating Council, which includes City Council representatives and bureau leaders, the ordinance under consideration reserves $1.5 million for program delivery and allocates the rest to three major priority areas.

Houselessness response and household stabilization: $45 million proposed ($58.7 million total)

Address Portland’s houselessness and rental eviction crisis through alternative houselessness interventions such as safe rest villages, support houseless community members through programs including the RV wastewater collection program and Joint Office of Homeless Services programs, and provide eviction and foreclosure prevention, rental assistance, utility bill assistance and technology access for low-income households.

Business and commercial district stabilization: $8.5 million proposed ($13.2 million total)

Get our local economy back on track through small business grants and resources, workforce development programs and undocumented business owner assistance.

Community health and safety: $8.7 million proposed ($8.9 million total)

Enhance community well-being through  programs to address litter and vandalism, wraparound services for families impacted by gun violence, neighborhood space activation and support for artists of color.

Program delivery and city services: $1.5 million proposed ($23.2 million total)

Provide resources to deliver American Rescue Plan programs and backfill revenue loss to provide continuity of City services.

A chart shows a breakdown of $104 million in American Rescue Plan investments proposed or committed for Portland.

Across the proposed investments, City leaders prioritized projects and programs designed to serve the most vulnerable Portlanders – often in partnership with community organizations. This approach recognizes the deep and disparate impact of the pandemic on some communities in Portland.

To develop a strategic and coordinated approach, the Economic Relief and Stabilization Coordinating Council brought together city leaders across bureaus and offices including Housing, Transportation, Parks & Recreation, Revenue and Financial Services, Equity and Human Rights and Prosper Portland. The group also included representatives for Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioners Jo Ann Hardesty, Mingus Mapps, Carmen Rubio and Dan Ryan, as well as Multnomah County and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s office.

The coordinating council agreed to build on community input, base decisions on data, align with City Council priorities and focus on areas where the City was uniquely positioned to make an impact. Members decided to prioritize three interlocking areas: houselessness response and household stabilization, small business and commercial district stabilization, and community health and safety.

These guiding principles helped whittle $444 million in initial requests submitted by City bureaus and Council representatives to the $63.6 million proposal being considered by City Council. After an initial screening for funding eligibility, lead bureaus and project managers developed detailed plans for a short list of proposals in each priority area.

The coordinating council emphasized responding to community needs that have emerged over the past 16 months. They reviewed input from Portland’s Economic Recovery Task Force, Joint Volunteer Information Center, five action tables convened by Mayor Wheeler, the Portland Housing Advisory Commission, the Street Roots ambassador program, Reimagine Oregon, rent relief provider networks, and focus groups of Black, Indigenous and people of color business owners.

In addition to drawing on City lessons from the first federal relief program during the pandemic, the CARES Act, the coordinating council contracted with ECONorthwest to conduct an economic analysis of community needs. The consultant team recommended a framework for decision-making, focused on addressing clear, immediate gaps and making a limited number of larger, transformative investments.

Following a City Council vote on July 28, the ordinance would take effect immediately. The American Rescue Plan delivery team will work with an implementation group for each program to review budgets and scopes of work, set up processes and communicate with Portlanders.

Program launch dates will vary depending on timelines and complexity. It is anticipated that many programs will be ready to roll out this fall.

Meanwhile, City leaders will develop a process for allocating the second installment of American Rescue Plan funding. The City’s approach will incorporate lessons learned from the current process, the arc of the pandemic and recovery, and the impact of initial investments.

For updates on American Rescue Plan programs, visit