Oregon CARES Act funds may soon be distributed to more Black businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic thanks to a recent settlement agreement.
Lead plaintiff Great Northern Resources had filed a lawsuit over the Oregon Emergency Board’s allocation of $62 million Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to the state’s Department of Administrative Services.
The intent of this allocation was to create the Oregon Cares Fund for Black Relief and Resiliency, which would be money available to Oregon-based Black businesses and community organizations, according to the settlement agreement.
The fund was scheduled to expire Dec. 30, 2020, based on the federal CARES Act deadline for expenditures.
However, on Dec. 8, 2020, The Contingent, a nonprofit with existing programs serving the Black community in Oregon that was administering the fund, announced it would no longer be accepting applications because it had received more than could be funded with what remained in the fund.
The Proposed Class includes all individuals, businesses, and nonprofits that applied to the Oregon Cares Fund prior to Dec. 8, 2020, whose applications do not indicate the applicant identifies as Black or as a Black-owned business or Black-focused organization
About 1,252 applicants are estimated to be Class Members.
Individuals, business, and nonprofits who did not apply to the Oregon Cares Fund before Dec. 8, 2020, are not included in the Class.
Under the terms of the settlement, Class Members would not be paid from the Oregon Cares Fund, but rather from an approximately $3.5 million fund established by the state.
Timely applications submitted by non-Black business owners will be considered for funding through the grant program automatically unless they opt out of the settlement, the Blue Mountain Eagle reported.
Applicants must be able to satisfy the Oregon Cares Fund’s original criteria for funding eligibility based on losses due to COVID-19.
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The plaintiffs are represented by Bradley Benbrook and Stephen M. Duvernay of Benbrook Law Group PC, Jonathan F. Mitchell of Mitchell Law PLLC, and James L. Buchal of Murphy & Buchal LLP.
The Oregon CARES Act Discrimination Lawsuit is Great Northern Resources Inc., et al. v. Katy Coba, et al., Case No. 3:20-cv-01866-IM (L), in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Portland Division.
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