Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I’ve long advocated for COVID-19 vaccination sites in east Portland. A lack of transportation options, language barriers, and confusion about the need for health insurance or documentation have contributed to lower vaccination rates throughout my district. I’m proud to report that east Portland is now home to several vaccination sites, and as we see new strains of COVID spreading throughout the world, it is just as important as ever to make sure people are vaccinated.
That’s why my office organized volunteers and staff to spread the word about vaccination clinics in east Portland late last week. While the temperatures reached into the 90s (which now seems rather tolerable), a dozen people fanned out in the Hazelwood and Gateway neighborhoods to put up multilingual flyers in local business about the clinics at the old Fabric Depot site and at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO). We visited beauty salons, ethnic grocery stores, restaurants, barber shops, and more. We hung dozens of flyers in locations that people visit regularly and trust.
At this stage in the pandemic, people may be thinking that they don’t need a vaccine, but evidence from throughout the world shows otherwise. The delta variant is spreading rapidly throughout the United States, and may be more contagious and deadly than prior strains. But it appears that the two shot COVID vaccines are effective in reducing the severity and spread of delta, making it once again urgent to get people vaccinated. (Note: both of the vaccination sites listed above are providing Pfizer vaccines for free and people do not need insurance or other documentation.)
While the flyers we distributed will help inform people of the opportunity and convenience of a vaccination, the encouragement of friends and family is often more important. So if you know someone who is reluctant to get their shots, encourage them to do so. If you have someone who is struggling to get to a site, see if you can help. Make sure young adults in your life, who as a group have lower vaccination rates than other eligible populations, know how important it is that everyone is vaccinated.
At this point, every individual vaccinated helps. So let’s make sure our friends, family, and broader community are as safe as can be.
Eviction Moratorium Update
Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended the temporary ban on residential evictions to July 31, 2021. That means that beginning August 1, you must pay rent to remain housed. Under Oregon law, you are not required to pay back-due rent from April 2020 til 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. Visit Oregon Rental Assistance today to apply for financial relief.
Earlier this month, the state legislature passed SB 278, which protects renters who have applied for rental assistance from eviction for sixty days. All you need to do is submit proof that you’ve applied for rental assistance to your property owner as soon as possible.
If you receive an eviction notice, call 211 as soon as possible for rental assistance. There is funding available to help renters who have been impacted by COVID, and the County, State and our community partners stand ready to assist you. But please reach out as soon as possible.
You can visit MultiFamily NW for more information about current eviction policies.
Post-Budget Town Hall
Earlier this month I hosted a virtual town hall to discuss the details of Multnomah County’s historic fiscal year 2022 budget. I want to thank those who attended, posed questions, and shared their thoughts on the challenges facing our community. If you were not able to attend this town hall, you can find a recording on my Facebook page, which can also be accessed here.
I am very proud of the hard work that went into crafting this year’s budget, and want to thank the constituents who submitted testimony, community leaders who worked with me on budget amendments, and everyone at Multnomah County who played a role in the passage of this budget.
As a board, we made investments in a variety of programs and departments from community justice to transportation, from housing to public health, from elections to animal services. If you missed my prior summary of the budget, you can find it here.
Examining Cost Saving Measures for the Burnside Bridge
As many of you know, the County is planning to construct a Burnside Bridge that can withstand and be immediately usable after a major earthquake. This project will be expensive, but critical to the rescue and recovery efforts after a major quake.
In November, a regional transportation funding measure failed at the ballot box which would have provided $150 million for the Burnside Bridge Project. As a result, the Multnomah County board was briefed earlier this month on options that would lower the cost of the bridge, including the elimination of a vehicle lane, the narrowing of bicycle and pedestrian lanes, an increase in support columns, less robust connections to MAX and the East Bank Esplanade, as well as other options.
You can read more about these options here, and share your thoughts with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be other opportunities to weigh in further on the bridge, and I will be sure to publicize those opportunities as we move closer to making decisions about this important lifeline link over the Willamette River. and how to apply here.