Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is often said that the reason to live in the Pacific northwest is for the summers. We spend time outdoors enjoying our beautiful forests, cool rivers, moderate coast, and all the wonders of our amazing region. We go hiking, swimming, biking, camping, attend outdoor concerts, and visit our amazing local parks.
This summer we have the added excitement of emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic and the lifting of many social distancing restrictions. Restaurants are once again at full capacity. The Timbers and Thorns are playing to raucous crowds. Last weekend, my family rented kayaks and paddle boards and spent two days paddling around local lakes. This weekend, my office is hosting an outdoor clean up event (see below) to spruce up our neighborhoods. People are out and about and it is wonderful to see.
Yet the summers we are experiencing are different from the ones I remember two decades ago. The smoke from wildfires is much more frequent, much more threatening, and the fire season much, much longer. We now consider the likelihood of smoke when planning summer adventures. The heat wave we experienced at the end of June was an unprecedented, horrifying weather event that left over a hundred Oregonians dead, and is evidence in the starkest way about the consequences of unmitigated human-caused climate change.
And sadly, COVID continues to wreak havoc, particularly on unvaccinated communities, with the Delta strain spreading throughout the world.
While we may want to take a break from the unrelenting stress of the last 18 months, the world has other ideas and is telling us in no uncertain terms how connected we all are, and how engaged we all need to be - not just in political matters, but with one another.
Next month, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners will receive an after action report on how we and other partners handled the heat dome crisis. We will hear recommendations for how to handle such disasters in the future, and what our government can do better. We will hear key lessons and takeaways. I will update you on those findings in my next newsletter.
Yet the power of government (and this is coming from someone on the left of the political spectrum!) is limited. Government’s ability to locate our most isolated community members is a significant challenge. Many people may not seek government services, live in government supported housing, or have any connection to government-funded community organizations.
In those situations, we need to step up as neighbors, friends, and family to look out for one another. The same is true when it comes to getting our most vulnerable and isolated vaccinated. We can offer outreach, incentives, and information (also see below), but the help of a friend or neighbor may be more crucial.
So as we head into the heart of summer, remember your influence, your power, and your neighbors. Knowing them may be key. Sincerely,
PS: While our state and county have pushed important climate change policies, federal action and international action are essential if we are to address this crisis. I’ve been highly encouraged by the recent proposals coming from Congress, the President, and the European Union. Stay tuned for further updates and calls to act.
Get Your Shot (and a gift card!)
Multnomah County is operating vaccine clinics across our community, providing safe and effective Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. Because Multnomah County recognizes that many community members face barriers accessing vaccines, our clinics are now offering gift cards for those who get vaccinated: $100 for your first dose and $50 for your second, or $150 if you receive the single Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
You can find a list of county vaccine clinics and learn more about the COVID vaccines here.As of this month, 65% of eligible Multnomah County residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. While this is a tremendous accomplishment, thousands of our neighbors are still not vaccinated, and as long as that remains the case we are still vulnerable to new surges in cases and dangerous variants like Delta. If you’re not sure about getting vaccinated, I urge you to talk to your doctor or your vaccinated friends & family about their experience.
East Portland Clean-up Event
It’s not too late to sign up to join me this Saturday, July 24th from 9-11:30am for my east Portland clean-up event. We will be meeting at Division Midway Alliance’s headquarters at 117th and Division Street before heading out into the surrounding areas to pick-up litter. Equipment will be provided. Please wear comfy shoes, a sun hat, and bring water. Masks are optional. Registration link can be found here.
I hope to see you at this wonderful opportunity to give back to our community!
The national eviction moratorium expires July 31, 2021. That means that beginning August 1, you must pay rent to remain housed. However, Multnomah County renters who have submitted proof of their application for rental assistance to their landlord are protected from eviction for 90 days and landlords are eligible for state rental assistance.
Under Oregon law, you are not required to pay back-due rent from April 2020 through June 2021 until February 28, 2022.
If you need help paying rent, including back-due rent and rent for upcoming months, the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program is ready to help. Click here to learn more about the eviction moratorium, renter protections, and to apply for rental assistance. If you receive an eviction notice, please call 211 for immediate assistance.
Constituent Spotlight: Marcia Schneider
For this month’s constituent spotlight, we spoke with Marcia Schneider, a registered nurse, former school nurse, and current healthcare volunteer at Multnomah County’s vaccine clinics. Marcia lives in an east Portland neighborhood that is socioeconomically and racially diverse. Unfortunately, the zip code that Marcia lives in is only 50% vaccinated, causing her great concern for her community.
During our conversation, we discussed what it's like to work at Multnomah County’s vaccine clinics, her experience administering the vaccine, and what she thinks the next three months will look like for our community. You can read the full interview here.
All nineteen of Multnomah County’s libraries will be open for basic services by late August! This means you will soon be able to browse the book stacks, pick up holds, and get help from our wonderful library staff all without an appointment. Masks are still recommended for patrons. Find more information here about the reopening schedule for certain branches and operating hours.