Amid the very real concern surrounding the spread of COVID-19 across Oregon, and across the country, today also brings us a much-needed cause for hope, and even celebration, with the federal government's passage of its historic $2 trillion stimulus package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. While the no-strings-attached rebate checks that many American families will begin receiving in just a few weeks are deservedly receiving much of the attention, the legislation contains a number of other very promising provisions. I wanted to highlight for you some of the ones that are most deeply connected with 1000 Friends' program and policy interests:
- $25 billion is earmarked for public transit and $1.018 billion to Amtrak
- $24 billion for farmers and ranchers $24.3 billion for SNAP and child nutrition programs
- $750 million to food banks and food assistance programs
- $285 million for USDA agencies
- $4 billion for Emergency Solutions Grants to prevent eviction and homelessness
- $3 billion for housing providers for rental assistance for low-income families
- $5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program
- $900 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
- $158.4 million to the Department of the Interior for response needs in national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands
- $70 million to the Forest Service
In addition to all of these very welcome relief valves, there is another key section of the CARES Act that is of equal importance to 1000 Friends. As a nonprofit organization, we are deeply indebted to the wisdom and leadership of Senator Ron Wyden, who championed a federal loan (and loan forgiveness) program that provides a lifeline for the continued operations of small businesses, including nonprofits like 1000 Friends, throughout the coming months. Senator Wyden also worked for the inclusion of expanded vote-by-mail funding, bringing the Oregon way to the rest of the nation. Thank you, Senator Wyden!
Last but not least, the CARES Act has also made it much easier for all of us to consider making charitable contributions to the nonprofit causes we care about right now. Next year, you will be able to deduct up to $300 in donations made in 2020 even if you don't itemize your tax return and donations that are the equivalent of up to 100% of your income if you do. Once you and your family's needs are met, I hope that you will consider making a special gift to 1000 Friends of Oregon.
While we don't know when the current crisis will be over, together, we can ensure that a beautiful, bountiful Oregon will be awaiting us all.