The impact of the coronavirus quarantine on Bend workers, families and local business owners has been sudden, and for many, financially devastating. Fortunately, our community and local government is providing many resources to help those impacted the most right now. If your income has been affected by the coronavirus quarantine, we encourage you to investigate and apply for financial assistance. For those who have not been directly impacted financially in the short term, there are ways you can can help those in our community who are in need during this health and economic crisis.
Most of you are probably well aware of the CARES Act, which was passed by the federal government in late March and has many provisions to help individuals with direct payments, expanded unemployment benefits, income tax allowances and accommodations for using retirement funds. For employers, the act includes small business relief through loans and grants available through the Small Business Administration (SBA), as well as other accommodations including delayed payroll taxes.
For this blog, we wanted to provide you with a few local and regional resources you may not be aware of, as well as ways you can help our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’ve been laid off, furloughed or taken a pay cut, there are things you can do to reduce the financial impact on you and your family:
- There have been a record-setting number of unemployment claims nationally and regionally, but it’s not too late to file for unemployment assistance with the State of Oregon.
- Communicate proactively with your landlord or mortgage lender if you’re concerned about affording rent or your mortgage payment.
- The City of Bend will not charge late fees for non-payment for sewer and water, and will not disconnect water service during this time.
- Cascade Natural Gas and Pacific Power are suspending disconnections during this time.
- Bend Broadband is suspending late fees and maintaining connections for customers directly impacted by the pandemic, and is offering free internet to new subscribers for 60 days to help people work from home.
We are grateful to all the local business owners who have tried to make the best decisions for their employees and pivot their businesses to adapt as well as possible to the pandemic. Here are a few resources and ideas for coping during this time:
- Communicate proactively with your landlord if you’re a commercial tenant, and with your lender, who may be able provide capital more quickly than forthcoming state and federal financial assistance.
- Business Oregon and other state agencies have created a Small Business Navigator to help small business owners quickly find online resources.
- If you are a retailer or other consumer-facing business owner, make sure your business is listed on SOS Bend, a website that helps customers buy store credit.
- Also, make sure your retail shop or restaurant is on the Visit Bend listing of open businesses by signing up here.
- The OSU-Cascades Innovation Co-Lab has created Central Oregon SOS, a website dedicated to supporting employers and employees with comprehensive resources.
- If you’ve had to do layoffs, consider providing your employees, who may not have personal computers at home, with computers not in use at your business.
- The Deschutes Library is providing online business and career resources.
- Central Oregon Community College is continuing to provide one-on-one business advice to current and potential small business owners.
- Free “Grab and Go” meals are being provided by the Bend LaPine School District at multiple schools for children ages 0 to 18, Monday through Friday, from 10:30 to noon.
- The Deschutes Library is still providing access to media resources online as well as homework resources.
- The Family Access Network continues to provide to families in need, and you can find your FAN advocate here.
- School counselors are proactively communicating with students to provide on-call emotional support, and you can find contact info for them on your individual school website.
- Bend Broadband is offering free internet to new subscribers for 60 days to help students participate in distance learning online.
- Pandemic Partners Bend is a local Facebook group connecting volunteers with those in need.
- View a list of businesses that are open here and consider supporting them.
- If you sew, you can contribute hand-sewn face masks to the St. Charles 10,000 Mask Challenge.
Sending you good thoughts and positive energy right now.