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Resources to help Portland during the COVID-19 Pandemic


Local Actions to Protect Portland Jobs and Businesses

Dear Neighbors, 

Things have changed. Really, really changed. We need to change the way we do things to match it.


It takes radical common sense. As anxiety-producing as it might be, we need to take stock of the situation. 


We are in a deep economic recession. There are many things out of our control as a city and a region. But some things are in our control, and we need to maximize our efforts when and where we can.

Economic recovery depends on a nationwide public health recovery.

Even after the initial wave of the virus, to prevent the flare up of new pandemics and the fear of them, widespread and ongoing testing for the virus and antibodies are key. There will likely be a
gradual, step-by-step relaxing of social distancing requirements, as testing becomes more available.


Some predict that between a quarter and half of businesses and nonprofits will fail because of the pandemic. Consumer-facing businesses that thrive on large attendance —like restaurants, bars and clubs– will be especially hit hard.

Job losses due to business and nonprofit cutbacks and failures are already staggering. Some predictions forecast unemployment will be 30% by August. Unemployment insurance payments are not adequate. They often do not cover basic household costs, not to mention rents and mortgages.


Addressing these challenges requires a big plan, not a small plan.

And to start, we need to set aside our pre-existing jurisdictional boundaries, break down the artificial silos we can no longer afford, and organize ourselves around common missions and goals. 

It also means not blindly continuing on bad past-practices that exclude people and exacerbate inequality. We must apply equity, inclusion and sustainability lenses to all of our efforts. 

Below, in the first of three parts, are my ideas on local actions we can take to protect jobs and businesses and move forward our local recovery and become a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable city. 

As always, I view my ideas as the start of a conversation, not the end of one. When it comes to public policy making, I love to exchange ideas, critiques and questions, to listen and learn. Email me at

sam at sewer collaspe.jpg

“My upbringing was with a family that got by at times with subsidized housing and public support. I know what it's like to live in a beautiful place but not feel financially secure. I know the value of a good job to the success of a family and the success of a city.” 

 Sam Adams 
Oregonian, November 9, 2008


Why Vouchers Are Better Than Deferring Payments

As we all know, COVID-19 isn’t just a horrifying and deadly disease, it is also causing profound disruptions to our local economy. Just this week, unemployment claims jumped to 16 million nationally, and about one-third of renters were unable to pay rent in April. Those numbers will continue to get worse. Restaurants, retailers and other small businesses are facing permanent closures and/or bankruptcy.

This spells instability throughout the housing and real estate markets--and in the case of mixed use buildings, these issues are often connected, in order for small and medium sized property owners to pay their mortgages and loans.


Related to job protection and creation efforts, there are equity and inclusion policies and frameworks, including Worksystems, Inc., Oregon Department of Employment, Oregon Apprenticeship, Portland Clean Energy Fund, Portland Apprenticeship, PCC Apprenticeship & Trades, Proposer Portland Workforce TrainingNew Avenues for Youth Job Training & Employment, Central City Concern Supported Employment, and more.


Review performance of established equity and inclusion measurable goals and metrics:


  • Align measurable equity and inclusion goals and measurable able goals and metrics across the jobs protection, creation and training continuum.

  • In the spirit of the Green New Deal goals, strengthen combined sustainability, equity and inclusion goals, metrics cross-agency and alignments.

  • Include aligned job protection, creating and training goals and metrics in agreements with contacted combined sustainability equity and inclusion goals service providers.

Job Proposals


Don’t Make JOBS and Business Losses Worse with Siloed Government Budget Cuts

Unless the federal government ramps up financial support, deep budget cuts will be required of governments at all levels, but especially state and local governments. The City of Portland and Multnomah County are legally forbidden from running budget deficits...


Job protection AND creation

I propose the Portland Clean Energy Fund, which has funds, team up with equity-missioned nonprofits and government agencies to rapidly create a Green New Deal Public Works Jobs Program. Working with local universities and national climate nonprofits...


Small Business Support 

Even after the stay-at-home orders are modified or lifted, many communal activities will be curtailed. Those that bring together a crowd in an enclosed space, like restaurants, music venues, sporting events and transit will be hit the hardest and for the longest time. Here are five actions Portland can take to ease the local economic impacts on businesses and their workers.

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