Marijuana tax funds Medford rental aid assistance

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Medford City Council Thursday night approved setting aside $100,000 in marijuana tax dollars for rental and nutrition assistance to help families dealing with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

“This money will go directly to nonprofits so they can continue doing what they do best,” said Kevin Stine, Medford council president.

He said the marijuana tax dollars are coming out of the city’s Vision Fund.

The city will disburse the money to local nonprofits such as ACCESS, Rogue Retreat and St. Vincent de Paul.

“These organizations already provide rental assistance and nutrition programs,” Stine said.

Rich Hansen with St. Vincent de Paul said, “Yes, the money will be very helpful. We’re expecting a wave of requests for rental assistance.”

He said the bars and restaurants that have closed mean a lot of workers won’t be getting paychecks, which will make it difficult for them to make their rent payments.

He said his organization partners with United Way, which received additional dollars for rental assistance.

St. Vincent typically provides up to $400 toward someone’s rent payment.

If his organization received $20,000 from the city of Medford, it would help more than 40 families, he said.

“Every little bit helps,” he said.

St. Vincent has stopped serving lunches in its dining room as it tries to practice social distancing to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Hansen said his organization is still handing out sack lunches to homeless people and the working poor.

Local nonprofits are bracing for increased needs for services as the local economy takes a hit from shutdowns of businesses because of the pandemic.

“We are expecting a large increase in requests for rental assistance and other assistance,” Hansen said.

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