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OEF Triples Aid to Underserved Oregon Communities

OEF Triples Aid to Underserved Oregon Communities

December 16, 2019

Like many things, utility hardship is not distributed evenly. Rural areas are more energy burdened than cities, but often lack the equivalent funds and resources. People of color also have higher energy burden rates than average, with 74% of Oregon’s Native population facing a severe energy burden.

Here at OEF, we strive to support overburdened and underserved communities such as these. And this winter, we’re pleased to provide a meaningful increase of funds to both of these groups.

The need is rural Oregon is particularly great. In remote Malheur County, nearly 50% of all households are severely energy burdened — double the statewide average. Rural families also face a harsher level of hardship, with the poorest homes forced to devote nearly 40% of their income to energy. But small populations and low donor rates mean these areas typically receive only meager funding.

To address this disparity, OEF plans to increase energy assistance funds to 11 eastern Oregon counties: Baker, Grant, Gillian, Harney, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, and Wheeler. Thanks to a generous anonymous donation, we’ll be able to triple our overall funding in this area, with the most underserved counties receiving five times more aid than last year. This will let us support around 200 additional households across the region, allowing them to devote more of their resources to food, rent, and medicine.

Additionally, OEF has received a $20,000 grant from CareOregon, which will support Oregon Health Plan members and aims to prevent health problems among households of color. As reported in our Fall newsletter, energy burdened families often face a high risk of illness, including respiratory diseases, heart problems, hunger, and depression.

This grant will double our funds to two of our Portland-area partners, Latino Network and the Native American Youth & Family Center, and will act to prevent poor health and childhood trauma. Both organizations were selected for the level of need among their two populations, as well as their dedicated outreach to families. Last year, for example, 2/3rds of Latino Network’s OEF recipients were children.

Both grants will greatly increase our ability to support historically underserved communities, ensuring families can live healthy and productive lives. Thanks to our funders for their support!


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