The Oregon Energy Fund: Neighbors Helping Neighbors

We recently chatted with Brian Allbritton, the executive director at the Oregon Energy Fund. This is a local non-profit we definitely stand behind because it is a way for neighbors to assist their neighborhood. Here’s a little more about the history of the organization, how it works day to day, and how you can help - it’s easy!

History of the Oregon Energy Fund

The Oregon Energy Fund started in 1989 and has been helping people for nearly three decades. Though it wasn’t always called the Oregon Energy Fund (it was most recently called HEAT Oregon), it has been dedicated to what the organization stands for since the beginning: helping people in crisis pay their utility bills.

Former governor Victor Atiyeh recognized there was a problem in Oregon: there were too many people that needed help that had no recourse. In these cases, people were financially stable enough in good times to make them ineligible to receive federal or state assistance in bad times. Even a minor crisis easily kept them from paying their utility bills.  

Mr. Atiyeh, along with several other politicians and energy executives, got together to figure out how to address this need. Now present in each and every Oregon county, the statewide non-profit has been operating without a single government dollar ever since.

Need for the Fund

There are many residents that receive no form of government assistance but would require help should an emergency arise. Emergencies such as big snowstorms, car accidents, or bad illnesses can mean a change in income and even unexpected bills. Fines on unpaid utility bills and reconnection fees for shut-off utilities compound the problem.

The need for emergency utility assistance has only grown since the fund began. Rent increases continue in much of the state, especially Portland, and wages are not keeping up with the cost of living. This is why the Oregon Energy Fund helps roughly 10,000 of our neighbors each year.

How People Get Assistance

The Oregon Energy Fund partners with organizations in each county. These are often community action agencies but are sometimes social services organizations. The organizations are there for the community — they meet with applicants, review needs, and determine eligibility.

Residents receive a one-time grant which the Oregon Energy Fund uses to directly pay the vendors, relieving those in need. The Oregon Energy Fund takes the weight of unpaid bills off the shoulders of people in crisis.

How You Can Help

The Oregon Energy Fund accepts donations and offers an option for recurring donations. You can visit their website to set it up. If you’re looking for a way to help your neighbors that has a very real and significant impact, this is a great and easy way to do it!

By partnering with highly effective agencies in each county, the Oregon Energy Fund can assure you that your money is being used in the most efficient way possible to help those around you.

Your donation ensures that Oregonians have somewhere to turn for help when they need it. Facing a change or cancellation to your utilities is a personal and detrimental problem. Together, we can work to solve it!