Oregon Energy Fund (OEF) is proud to announce the launch of its new Senior Discount Pilot Program, a groundbreaking collaboration with Meals on Wheels People (MoWP) that provides utility bill assistance to senior Oregonians in the Portland Metro area. Believed to be the first program of its kind in the nation, the program is funded by a grant of $207,000 from the Meyer Memorial Trust – the largest competitively won grant in OEF’s history.
The OEF Senior Discount Program aims to support seniors on fixed incomes who have been disproportionately affected by the sharp rise in Oregon’s cost of living. According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 40% of senior households in the Portland Metro area are rent-burdened, leaving them struggling to cover necessary expenses like food, medicine, and utilities.
OEF’s Senior Discount Program addresses this issue by paying $25 to clients’ utility accounts each month. This payment will allow seniors to reallocate money that would have paid for energy and thus help prevent them from falling behind on other necessities. The pilot will serve 300 individual households for two years, with an eye toward expanding its scope in the future.
Elegant in its simplicity, the partnership between Oregon Energy Fund and Meals on Wheels People is a unique example of one and one equaling more than two. While OEF provides the funding, MoWP staff will handle vetting and enrollment – a natural fit given their established relationship with the senior community. MoWP will also help homebound seniors apply for assistance in the comfort of their homes. This will eliminate the need for them to travel to and from local agencies to register, which can require multiple trips, as well as the need to carry and keep track of personal documents away from home.
“By collaborating on this program, both OEF and MoWP will provide a much greater benefit to their community than by working independently,” said Brian Allbritton, OEF Executive Director. “By reducing the amount they spend on energy each month, seniors will have larger budgets for groceries and medications that are often unaffordable – all while maintaining their independence and ability to age in place.”
This project also marks one of the Meyer Memorial Trust’s first collaborative grants, which recognizes joint efforts between multiple organizations. By supporting programs like the OEF Senior Discount, the Meyer Trust reinforces its role as a leader in the field of charitable giving and a forward-thinking supporter of its community.
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