APANO: If Asians or Pacific Islanders in Beaverton and Washington County need rent assistance, where can they go? 

KCS: Community Action of Washington County has the most consistent funding for folks in need of rent assistance, so I would direct folks there first! They can call Community Action to request rent assistance at 503-615-0770 Mondays through Thursdays starting at 9am until the day’s appointments are filled. Visit their website at www.caowash.org for more information. Folks are also welcome to reach out to me at karmen@apano.org for help filling out Community Action’s application for rent assistance. 

APANO: What did you learn about API families who needed rent relief in Beaverton? 

KCS: The Covid-19 pandemic presented an abrupt shift in income sources and work opportunities, home life and childcare responsibilities, and so much more. Independent contractors (gig workers), small business owners, and families with school-age children made up the majority of folks seeking rent assistance. In the messiness of trying to find assistance, we also were reminded that communities look out for each other by sharing insights on relief funds, exchanging information and contacts to call, and stepping in as interpreters for their friends and family. Our communities are resilient!

APANO: What were some challenges doing rental relief and intakes? What are some policy + advocacy opportunities to push in 2021? 

KCS: The biggest challenge was knowing that there is a growing need for rent relief but a bottleneck of disbursing funds. The increased need for assistance demanded scaling up human capacity to get relief to as many households at a pace we weren’t set up to handle! At this point in the pandemic, we’re no stranger to backlogs and bottlenecks, but the burden of applying and waiting for relief ultimately falls onto low income BIPOC families and individuals. I’d love to see a bigger push for longer-term stabilization policies like rent and debt cancellation that will allow folks to stay in their homes and focus on staying healthy–and not worry about applying for short-term relief funds. 

Learn more about Karmen and her role as APANO’s Community Outreach Coordinator.