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Combatting Energy Insecurity and Racial Disparities

Combatting Energy Insecurity and Racial Disparities

May 4, 2023

Energy insecurity is endemic. 1 in 4 Oregonians – around 400,000 households – struggle to pay their energy bills each year. However, this hardship is not evenly distributed. Instead, it disproportionately affects vulnerable communities, especially those distinguished by race and class. Two-thirds of all low-income US households experience a high energy burden each year, encompassing groups like seniors, students, veterans, people with disabilities, and single parents.

Energy insecurity is also exacerbated by Oregon’s unfolding climate crisis, which has been responsible for devastating wildfires, snowstorms, and heat waves. While extreme weather affects all Oregonians, the most severe costs are borne by people of color and low-income families, who are more likely to live in poorly insulated homes in heat islands and areas with higher pollution, putting them at higher risk and incurring higher energy costs.

By serving Oregon’s energy burdened population, OEF’s funds have naturally supported people of color, people with disabilities, seniors, single parents, and low-income households. Expanding our agency partners to include culturally specific organizations allows us to actively center these groups into our programs, rather than serving them incidentally. Agencies like the Latino Network, the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), and the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) let clients seek out funding at a known and safe location.

Overall, our support of vulnerable populations has increased significantly since these changes. In 2022, 50% of our clients identified as non-white or a person of color and 62% were seniors, children, or people with disabilities.

With your continued support, we can ensure that ALL our neighbors receive the support they need to stay healthy, safe, and housed. Please join me in this critical mission by donating to Oregon Energy Fund today.