Customer Service: 503-823-7770
GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404
Frequently Asked Questions (Updated: June 3, 2020)
Program details are described below. Please read before calling, call waits may be long. Customers can call 503-823-7770 and email email@example.com for support.
What is the Small Business Program for Utility Relief (SPUR)?
The Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services have allocated one million dollars to provide financial support to Portland’s small businesses. The bureaus will provide one-time credits on qualifying businesses’ sewer/stormwater/water bills.
Credits are expected to range from $1,000 to $10,000 and will assist between 200 and 300 small businesses. This program is modeled after Prosper Portland’s Small Business Relief Fund to provide relief for small businesses affected by the pandemic.
Who is eligible?
To qualify, the business must:
All applications will be evaluated using a racial equity and vulnerability lens. The City of Portland is committed to centering racial equity in its collective response to the pandemic. Recognizing that Black, Indigenous and People of Color, individuals with disabilities, and individuals experiencing poverty are disproportionally affected, the City of Portland is dedicating resources and creating support systems to ensure this crisis does not exacerbate existing inequities.
How can I apply?
Online applications will be open for two weeks beginning July 8th. Every application will be evaluated using a racial equity and vulnerability lens. Credits will not be distributed based on who applies first.
What is the timeline for applying for the program and receiving funds?
Wednesday, July 8th: Applications open
Wednesday, July 22: Applications close
Wednesday, August 5: Credits announced, applicants notified
Wednesday, August 19: Credits applied to accounts
How will businesses receive the money?
If the application is approved, the business will receive funding as a one-time credit on its sewer/stormwater/water bill.
What if my small business does not directly receive a sewer/stormwater/water bill?
Not all small businesses receive a utility bill directly; some pay those costs through rent.Businesses interested in the program are encouraged to collaborate with the utility bill account holder on the application process and negotiate how to share any allocated resources. Account holders who apply and indicate that they are working with their tenants will be given priority in the application review process.
What if my small business operates from my home?
The SPUR application is open to home-based businesses. For the application, businesses will need the account number where it receives its sewer/stormwater/water service.
In the meantime, what should business owners do about their bills?
Business owners should continue to pay their bills. If they’re struggling to make current monthly payments, businesses are encouraged to contact the Water Bureau to set up payment plans. The Water Bureau is not currently shutting water off for non-payment.
If a business owner is approved for this program, a credit will be applied to the existing sewer/stormwater/water bill. Business owners will still be responsible for any remaining charges on the bill.
Where is the money coming from? Will this program raise rates?
The SPUR is a bill credit, not an out-of-pocket cost for the utility bureaus. No rate increase is tied to this program.The bureaus are anticipating an overall reduction in revenue because of the pandemic, and the SPUR is part of that anticipated reduction.
This is a wise business decision for the bureaus and the right thing to do. The utility bureaus are investing in small businesses now, so they will be here to invest in sewer/stormwater/water infrastructure for years to come. The bureaus are supporting businesses now so they can stay in business, recover, and continue contributing to the community.
Why are the utility bureaus partnering with Prosper Portland?
Through the development and implementation of the Small Business Relief Fund earlier this year, Prosper Portland established an effective program for selecting, notifying, and funding eligible small businesses using a racial equity and vulnerability lens. While the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services will administer the overall Small Business Program for Utility Relief (SPUR), the utility bureaus will leverage the program guidelines Prosper Portland developed to ensure the program serves the city’s most vulnerable businesses.
Why is the City doing this?
Commissioner Fritz heard from the business community, particularly from women, communities of color and others with historical disadvantages to capital, that the financial burden of the pandemic was becoming untenable. These small businesses are the fabric of the community that we love and wish to preserve. Commissioner Fritz asked the Water Bureau to work with community partners on a solution.
How can I find out more?
Customers can call 503-823-7770 and email firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
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