The new bread line: Residents queue up for emergency checks

Area residents lined up around OnPoint Credit Union for an emergency check from the state. 

The need for economic relief as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic was on display at OnPoint Credit Union last week. 

Those seeking an emergency $500 payment authorized by the Oregon Legislature stood in line for hours trying to get a small piece of a $35 million pie. OnPoint Credit Union was the only place in Keizer distributing the checks and issued 581 of them during a three-day period, Aug. 20-22.

“We worked quickly and efficiently to safely serve as many Oregonians as possible. Yet it is clear the need for financial relief for individuals and families in our community is very high,” said Michael Savory, Keizer branch manager. OnPoint distributed another 833 checks at its West Salem branch and processed 21,400 emergency checks at its branches throughout Oregon. 

State officials required recipients to meet a number of eligibility criteria to qualify for the emergency payment. 

Handling the outsized need was no small task for the credit unions, like OnPoint, that participated in the program as issuers. 

“In response to the high demand, we quickly put a plan in place to serve as many people as possible while observing social distancing and requiring masks in our branches. We deployed additional staff at branches to answer questions, support the lines, and encourage social distancing. We also developed printed information to share with people in line regarding the requirements and a numbered “ticket” system to streamline the process,” Savory said. 

Oregonians that remain in need of assistance can find help with rent, utilities and food by calling the state’s 2-1-1 hotline.