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The Jackson grand opening provides new, affordable housing option for wildfire survivors (Photo) - 01/28/22

Celebration of the community partnership providing Jackson County housing solutions

MEDFORD – Survivors of the devastating 2020 wildfires will have a new place to call home when The Jackson opens its doors to new tenants on Monday, January 31, 2022. Community partners will come together to celebrate with a grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly renovated property that will provide a much-needed option for affordable housing. 

After wildfires destroyed thousands of homes throughout the state, Fortify Holdings partnered with the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), Rogue Community Health and ACCESS to support disaster housing efforts in Medford. 

“Hundreds of families displaced by the Almeda Fire and the pandemic are finding themselves in safe, temporary homes thanks to a creative partnership between Fortify Holdings, Oregon Department of Housing and Human Services, Rogue Community Health and other community organizations,” said Representative Pam Marsh, D – District 5.

WHAT: Grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony

WHEN: Monday, January 31, 2022, 2:45 – 4:00 PM

WHERE: The Jackson, 518 N Riverside Ave, Medford, OR 97501

SPEAKERS:  Representative Pam Marsh, (D) District 5 – Southern Jackson County 

Sean Keys, Founder and Investor, Fortify Holdings

Ziad Elsahili, President, Fortify Holdings 

William North, CEO, Rogue Community Health

Edwin Flick, Director, Office of Resilience and Emergency Management, Oregon Department of Human Services
Caleb Yant, Deputy Director, Oregon Housing and Community Services

Carrie Borgen, ACCESS Executive Director

 In 2020, the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) stepped in to provide shelter and meals to survivors of the 2020 Labor Day wildfires. ODHS’ shelter support was intended to be short-term, but the severe lack of affordable housing meant a quick resolution for the wildfire survivors was not possible. That’s when ODHS approached Fortify Holdings to explore the option of converting hotels into short-term shelters and then, eventually, into rental apartments. Fortify accepted the challenge. 

“We are thrilled to be part of the solution here in Medford, particularly to be helping those impacted by wildfires,” said Ziad Elsahili, President of Fortify Holdings “We invested in Southern Oregon and purchased this hotel with the long-term vision for creating an apartment community and we’re excited about our public/private partnerships across the region that have enabled us to do just that.”

In February 2021, Fortify Holdings entered into a master lease agreement with Rogue Community Health, and together they partnered with ODHS, OHCS, and ACCESS. Fortify purchased the former Americas Best Value Inn/OYO, and, in less than a year, fully converted 84 units into apartments. Through this public/private partnership, the entire building has been reborn as The Jackson, and the new homes will be prioritized for wildfire survivors over the next month.

“Helping people recover from disasters requires more than just providing shelter and meals,” said ODHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht. “It takes our communities coming together to collaborate and work together to focus on the needs of the survivors to address the barriers they are experiencing to recovery. The public/private partnership is a model for other communities hard hit by disasters.” 

“The struggles that many families in this county have faced over the last two years cannot be understated. It has become a necessity that community organizations come together to offer support. As we open this property, our goal is to provide stability, comfort, and hope for those recovering from these devastating losses,” said William North, CEO Rogue Community Health.

“We are excited this project is providing new housing options to wildfire survivors in Jackson County,” said Caleb Yant, Deputy Director, at OHCS. “While we understand it’s been a long road and more still needs to be done, this opening represents another steppingstone to providing intermediate and long-term housing for those recovering from a natural disaster. We are proud to stand with our local partners as we welcome residents into The Jackson.”

Additionally, OHCS has committed rental assistance through the ACCESS Center for Community Resilience through June 30, 2023, for tenants who cannot afford the market rents. 

ACCESS, and its wildfire recovery-focused Center for Community Resilience (CCR), is working alongside state and local partners to provide housing case management, rental and utility assistance, educational opportunities, food assistance, and inter-agency referrals to fire-impacted households. 

“We are grateful for partnerships that help us to best serve our community,” said ACCESS Executive Director Carrie Borgen. “This statewide collaborative effort ensures that assistance for wildfire-impacted households is comprehensive and operates with long-term recovery goals in mind."

“What happened in Medford is so unique, it’s truly been a highlight in my career,” said Sean Keys, Founder of Fortify Holdings. “Helping families in their crucial time of need has been incredibly satisfying to see. One of our missions is to transform lives, and this project will bring much-needed, high quality housing and medical services to hundreds of Medford residents.”

Wildfire survivors still in need of assistance may call the survivor phone line toll-free at 1-833-669-0554, visit ODHS’ web page for wildfire survivors or learn about other options on the state’s website at wildfire.oregon.gov.

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Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day is January 28 -- See if you qualify for up to $6,728 - 01/27/22

(Salem) – As the Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day approaches on Friday, January 28, the Oregon Department of Revenue and the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) are encouraging all workers with income in 2021 to check their Earned Income Tax Credit eligibility.

The Earned Income Tax Credit, which may give families up to $6,728 back when they file taxes, is a federal and state tax credit for people making less than $57,414 per year. Many Oregonians miss out because they simply don’t know about it, especially those that aren’t required to file taxes.

Even if you aren’t required to file taxes, you may still qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. If you do, you will need to file a federal and state return in order to get this refundable credit.

Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day is a nationwide effort to increase awareness about the Earned Income Tax Credit and free tax preparation sites. There are volunteer organizations, such as Metropolitan Family Services and AARP that can help you file your taxes for free or at a reduced cost. More information can be found on the Oregon Department of Revenue website.

Basic qualifications for EITC include:

  • All filing statuses are eligible, but some have specific requirements that must be met in order to qualify.
  • You, your spouse, or any qualifying child must have a Social Security number.
  • Your earned income in 2021 must be below certain limits based on your number of qualifying dependents.
  • You may be eligible even if you do not have a qualifying child.

The Department of Revenue and ODHS are working with other state agencies and community partners to encourage taxpayers to learn more about this credit and find out if they’re eligible.

Taxpayers can use the IRS EITC Assistant to check their eligibility further. The assistant is available in English and Spanish.

CASH Oregon provides free or low-cost, in-person tax preparation services throughout Oregon. To see its locations, visit www.cashoregon.org. People can also dial 2-1-1 to find free tax return preparation sites.

For more information on the EITC, visit https://www.eitc.irs.gov/. For questions about Oregon taxes, call the Department of Revenue at 503-378-4988. 

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Increased emergency SNAP benefits continue in February - 01/26/22

Need to know

  • Most Oregonians who receive SNAP benefits will continue to receive increased emergency food benefits in February
  • Approximately 380,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $61 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits
  • Find resources to meet your basic needs: Dial 2-1-1, or text your zip code to 898-211, www.211info.org 
  • Oregon Department of Human Services COVID-19 help center 

(Salem) – Most Oregonians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will receive emergency allotments in February. 

The federal government has approved emergency allotments every month since March 2020. This gives SNAP recipients additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In February, approximately 380,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $61 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits.

“We know that many rely on these additional emergency food benefits to get enough healthy food for themselves and their families,” said Claire Seguin, deputy director of the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Self-Sufficiency Programs. “We also know that many Oregonians are still struggling to meet their basic needs and we encourage them to contact our partners at 211 and the Oregon Food Bank for support during this difficult time.”

Emergency allotments will be available on Feb. 11 for current SNAP households. New SNAP households will receive the emergency allotments Feb. 26 or March 2.

SNAP recipients do not have to take any action to receive these supplemental benefits as they will be issued directly on their EBT cards. 

More information about emergency allotments is available at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/Emergency-Allotments.aspx.

Questions about your SNAP benefits should be directed to the ONE Customer Service Center at 1-800-699-9075.

If you are a SNAP household and your income or the number of people in your household has changed, it could impact your benefits. It is important to make sure ODHS has the most up-to-date information. 

You can report any changes to your income or household in many ways: 

  • Online at: ONE.Oregon.gov
  • By mail at: ONE Customer Service Center, PO Box 14015, Salem, OR 97309
  • By fax at: 503-378-5628
  • By phone at: 1-800-699-9075 or TTY 711

Resources to help meet basic needs

Administered by ODHS, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1 million eligible, low-income families and individuals in Oregon, including many older adults and people with disabilities. Oregonians in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP, child care, cash assistance and Medicaid. Learn more at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-benefits. For local resources in your area, such as food or shelter, please call 2-1-1 or reach out to the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) at 1-855-ORE-ADRC or 1-855-673-2372.

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UPDATE - Oregon Department of Human Services announces that Katelyn N. Smith has been found - 01/24/22

(Salem) – The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Child Welfare Division, is thankful for the community support to find Katelyn N. Smith. 

Katelyn, age 17, is a child in foster care who went missing from Coos Bay on Jan. 20. She was found Jan. 23.

A small number of children in foster care may be in significant danger when they run away or have gone missing. As ODHS works to do everything it can to find these missing children and ensure their safety, media alerts will be issued in some circumstances when it is determined necessary. Sometimes, in these situations, a child may go missing repeatedly, resulting in more than one media alert for the same child.

Report child abuse to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-855-503-SAFE (7233).  This toll-free number allows you to report abuse of any child or adult to the Oregon Department of Human Services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. 

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Katelyn Smith
Katelyn Smith
Missing child alert -- Katelyn N. Smith is missing and is believed to be in danger (Photo) - 01/21/22

(Salem) – The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Child Welfare Division, asks the public to help find Katelyn N. Smith, age 17, a child in foster care who went missing from Coos Bay on Jan. 20. Katelyn is believed to be in danger.

ODHS asks the public for help in the effort to find Katelyn and to contact 911 or local law enforcement if they believe they see her.

Katelyn is suspected to be in the Coos Bay area. She may be in the presence of a 17-year-old male, or Trayton W. Glass, age 20. 

Name: Katelyn N. Smith
Pronouns: She/her
Date of birth: Aug. 3, 2004
Height: 5-foot-six
Weight: 120 pounds
Hair: Blue
Eye color: Brown 
Other identifying information: Katelyn’s lower lip is pierced; she has a nose piercing.
Coos Bay Police Department Case #P20220240
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children #1441272

A small number of children in foster care may be in significant danger when they run away or have gone missing. As ODHS works to do everything it can to find these missing children and ensure their safety, media alerts will be issued in some circumstances when it is determined necessary. Sometimes, in these situations, a child may go missing repeatedly, resulting in more than one media alert for the same child.

Report child abuse to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-855-503-SAFE (7233).  This toll-free number allows you to report abuse of any child or adult to the Oregon Department of Human Services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. 

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Attached Media Files: Katelyn Smith
Oregon awards $2.1 million to support youth experiencing homelessness - 01/20/22

Need to know

  • Approximately $2.1 million is being awarded to organizations across Oregon to expand services and support for youth experiencing homelessness
  • The money is being awarded to 19 organizations providing services to youth in 16 counties

(Salem) – The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Youth Experiencing Homelessness program is awarding approximately $2.1 million to organizations that provide services and support to youth experiencing homelessness. 

Youth experiencing homelessness face many barriers to meeting their basic needs. They experience hunger and difficulty accessing clean clothes, a place to shower, supports and resources, and safe, stable housing. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has made these experiences even more difficult for young people, especially for youth of color, members of tribal nations, and LGBTQIA2S+ youth. 

To address these needs, ODHS is awarding approximately $2.1 million in grant funding to organizations across the state to improve services for youth experiencing homelessness. Most of these grant funds were appropriated by House Bill 2544 of the 2021 Session of the Oregon Legislature.

The approximately $2.1 million is being awarded to 19 organizations providing services in 16 counties to support:

  • Creation and expansion of outreach and drop-in prevention services 
  • Shelter expansion 
  • Transitional housing opportunities
  • Culturally-specific services
  • Expansion of mental health and substance use disorder services
  • Expansion of services in rural areas

Organizations receiving grant funding include: 

  • Alternative Youth Activities (Coos County)
  • AntFarm (Clackamas County)
  • Boys & Girls Aid Society (Washington County)
  • Family Faith & Relationship Advocates (Douglas County)
  • Hearts with a Mission (Jackson and Josephine Counties)
  • Home Plate (Washington County)
  • Integral Youth Services (Klamath County)
  • J Bar J Youth Services (Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson Counties)
  • Jackson Street Youth Services (Linn and Benton Counties)
  • Janus Youth Programs (Multnomah County)
  • Lincoln County Youth Tides Shelter (Lincoln County)
  • Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action (Marion and Polk Counties)
  • Native American Youth Services (Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington Counties)
  • New Avenues for Youth (Multnomah County)
  • Outside In (Multnomah County)
  • Parrott Creek (Clackamas and Multnomah County)
  • St. Vincent de Paul (Lane County)
  • Yamhill Community Action Partnership (Yamhill County)
  • Youth Era (Lane County)

Learn more about the ODHS Youth Experiencing Homelessness Program at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/CHILDREN/Homeless-Youth/Pages/index.aspx

About the Oregon Department of Human Services

The mission of the Oregon Department of Human Services is to help Oregonians in their own communities achieve wellbeing and independence through opportunities that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity. 

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Vocational Rehabilitation program seeks public comment on rule changes - 01/14/22

(Salem, Ore.) – The Oregon Department of Human Services’ Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program is seeking public comment on changes to its administrative rules. The public may testify at public hearings or submit written comments by Friday, March 4, 2022 at 5 p.m. 

Vocational Rehabilitation seeks input on the proposed changes to Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 582-070-0025 Vehicle repair, modification and purchase. This rule helps clarify the process for vehicle related purchases that may help a VR client overcome disability-related barriers to find, secure, maintain or advance their career. All input will be reviewed, and the proposed rules may be modified as a result of public input during this period.

The proposed rules are posted on the VR Policy web page

Vocational Rehabilitation is updating OAR 582 to align with requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), enacted July 22, 2014 (Public Law No. 113-128) and with state and federal requirements. The rules match requirements in the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, state policy, and clarify processes for vocational rehabilitation service. 

How to comment or provide testimony:

  • Email your comments to: .Policy@dhsoha.state.or.us">VR.Policy@dhsoha.state.or.us
  • Mail written testimony to: Oregon Department of Human Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, Robin Brandt, Policy Analyst, 500 Summer Street NE, E-87 Salem, Oregon 97310-1018
  • Attend a virtual public hearing on Zoom by phone or online. The hearings will be recorded and will end when comments conclude. Staff will be available for comments for at least 30 minutes after the hearing starts. Public hearings will be held on: 

ASL interpretation and live captioning will be provided at every public hearing. 

You can request accommodation in other languages, large print, braille or a format you prefer to submit public comment, attend a public hearing. Contact Robin Brandt at 503-507-5226 or by email at .Policy@dhsoha.state.or.us">VR.Policy@dhsoha.state.or.us. We accept calls from all forms of relay service for people who are Deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing or have a speech disability. For more information about relay service providers visit www.oregonrelay.com or www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/trs-providersPlease let us know of any accommodations at least a week in advance. We will to our best to accommodate all requests. 

To receive notice of future public hearingssend an email to .Policy@dhsoha.state.or.us">VR.Policy@dhsoha.state.or.us. Use the subject line “Public hearings”. 

About Vocational Rehabilitation: ODHS Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) assists individuals with disabilities to get and keep a job that matches their skills, interests and abilities. VR staff work in partnership with the community and businesses to provide services that are individualized to help each eligible person receive services that are essential to their employment success.

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Oregon increases income limits for food and child care assistance - 01/13/22

Need to know

  • Oregon has increased the income eligibility limit for food and child care assistance up to 200% of the federal poverty level 
  • Previous income limits were 185% of the federal poverty level
  • Approximately 18,000 additional households in Oregon may qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) under these new income guidelines
  • Approximately $25 million in additional food benefits will be issued to Oregonians annually
  • Find resources to meet your basic needs: Dial 2-1-1, or text your zip code to 898-211, www.211info.org 
  • Oregon Department of Human Services COVID-19 help center 

(Salem) – The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) has increased the income limits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) program to 200% of the federal poverty level, or $2,147 a month for an individual or $3,660 for a family of three.

The previous income limit for these programs was 185% of the federal poverty level, or $1,986 a month for an individual or $3,386 for a family of three. 

This change took effect in Oregon on Jan. 1, 2022, and approximately 18,000 new households are expected to be eligible to enroll in SNAP. Approximately $25 million in additional food benefits will be issued to Oregonians annually. 

“Coming into the COVID-19 pandemic, life was difficult for many Oregonians, especially people of color, Oregon Tribal Nations, people with disabilities and older adults,” said ODHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht. “As COVID-19 continues to impact our communities, we know that many are struggling to get enough healthy food for themselves and their families. This increase will provide critical food support to thousands of Oregonians.”

The ERDC program has two income limits to participate in the program, for when a family applies to participate in the program and when a family renews their participation in the program. The entry income limit to enroll in the program has increased to 200% of federal poverty level. Families can continue to participate in the program until their income is above 250% of the federal poverty level, or $5,303 a month for a family of three. 

“It’s encouraging to see child care prioritized with other critical benefits to support Oregon families,” said Oregon Early Learning System Director Alyssa Chatterjee. “This change will help more families access child care at a pivotal time – one that’s brought uncertainty and challenges.” 

Oregonians can apply for medical, food, cash, and child care assistance in one place online at ONE.Oregon.gov, over-the-phone at 800-699-9075​, or in-person at a local ​office.​ Due to COVID-19, Oregonians are encouraged to call ahead before their local ​office.

ODHS offers these tips to Oregonians to help them as they apply for benefits:

  • Before you begin an application, compile all documents you think you might need ahead of time. This can prevent your application from being held up and taking additional time. These documents could include: Identification, proof of income, social security numbers or other documents to determine eligibility for anyone in the household who is applying for benefits. 
  • If you have already submitted an online, in-person or over-the-phone application, you do not need to reapply. ODHS has your application and will process it as quickly as possible. 
  • If you applied through the ONE online application, you can track your application’s status using the same system you used to apply. Log in to one.oregon.gov to start tracking. Note: This website is accessible on computers, tablets and phones, but it is not optimized for mobile viewing. 
  • If you prefer to apply over the phone, the ONE Customer Service Center is open Monday-Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Currently hold times are lowest in the morning from 7 until 8 a.m.
  • If you are only applying for medical benefits, you can get free application help from an OHP-Certified Community Partner. Community Partners are trained and certified to help clients understand and use their health coverage options, including helping them complete eligibility and enrollment forms. Find a Community Partner at https://healthcare.oregon.gov/Pages/find-help.aspx 

Resources to help meet basic needs

About the Oregon Department of Human Services

The mission of the Oregon Department of Human Services is to help Oregonians in their own communities achieve wellbeing and independence through opportunities that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity. 

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Entry way for the new OPDHS Building in Gresham
Entry way for the new OPDHS Building in Gresham
New Gresham ODHS trauma-informed building opens January 2022 (Photo) - 01/10/22

The new Oregon Department of Human Services trauma-informed building in Gresham is expected to open this month, January 2022. 

Child Welfare Division offices in the new building are expected to be open January 24. Self-Sufficiency Programs offices are expected to be open January 31.   

The three story, 96,000 square-foot building, located at 635 S.E. 223rd Avenue, will house Child Welfare and Self-Sufficiency Programs There will also be conference rooms available for community meetings. The addition of ODHS programs brings more access to anti-poverty resources to this community. 

The trauma-informed design creates a physical environment that promotes a sense of safety and calm for the children, adults, and families we serve as well as ODHS staff. Trauma-informed design helps visitors and staff have a positive experience in our building. Research has shown that environments can increase or reduce our stress levels. 

Some of the design features include: quiet areas that respect the privacy of people; outside seating; the type of art on the walls will selected to help reduce stress and bring a feeling of connection and an open plaza outside the building will have a bioswale watered from the roof’s rainwater runoff. A little bridge will cross the bioswale.  

 

 

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Oregon Department of Human Services to preview priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session during Jan. 14 webinar - 01/10/22

The public is invited to join Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) leaders online for a preview of the ODHS’ priorities for the 2022 Oregon Legislative Session. This year’s priorities are centered on the ODHS’ commitment to equity and supporting human potential. 

ODHS 2022 legislative priorities include requests to improve equity in service delivery; responding to emergencies and disasters; and to strengthen staffing to meet the growing demand for ODHS services. A presentation will be followed by a questions-and-answers session.

ODHS Community Briefing: 2022 Legislative Session Preview

Date: Friday, Jan. 14, 2021

Time: 9 to 10 a.m. PST

How: Online participation only. Pre-registration is required. Register online now

Accessibility: ASL interpretation and live captioning will be provided. A link for live captioning will be provided prior to the event.

About the Oregon Department of Human Services

The mission of the Oregon Department of Human Services is to help Oregonians in their own communities achieve wellbeing and independence through opportunities that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity. 

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