Despite a Better Economic Outlook, Some in Central Oregon Still Struggle

9/15/2016 3:00 PM
Despite a Better Economic Outlook, Some in Central Oregon Still Struggle

This week’s release of economic data for 2015 by the U.S. Census Bureau highlighted an improving economy and a major reversal of national economic trends plaguing the nation since the recession.  Nationally, median income rose 5.2 percent.  Unemployment fell to 5 percent.  Wages (adjusted for inflation) rose 2 percent and poverty declined to 13.5 percent, the largest one year drop since 1968. Despite such rosy statistics, demand for services remained stubbornly high in the first six months of 2016, according to data compiled by NeighborImpact.

The region’s largest nonprofit provider of social services released statistics to its board of directors recently regarding demand for services in the first six months of 2016.  A total of 22,784 households in Central Oregon and 135,353 individuals sought one or more services from the agency. Based on the counting system, individuals and households are counted each time they receive services, and an individual or household may be counted more than once if they receive more than one service or receive service more than once in a six-month period.

“Basically, the numbers are flat in Central Oregon,” noted Executive Director Scott Cooper.  “The end of the recession has been good for many people and for Central Oregon, but a rising tide definitely hasn’t lifted all boats equally.  There is still a group of people who are need to supplement income with services such as food, energy assistance and housing supports in order to survive.”  Cooper noted that rapidly rising housing costs are frequently cited by clients as reasons they are struggling to get balance household budgets.

Programs operated by NeighborImpact include:

  • Child Care Resources
  • Head Start
  • Emergency Food Assistance/Food Bank
  • Energy Assistance
  • Weatherization
  • Housing Stabilization
  • Lending
  • HomeSource (home ownership counseling, financial education, matched savings, foreclosure counseling, reverse mortgage counseling and mortgage assistance) 

The breakdown of the numbers served by county are shown in the chart below.







Individuals Served






Households Served






Hours of Training






Resources distributed








These numbers understate the total services provided throughout the region.  For example, NeighborImpact’s food program only augments the much more significant federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps.)  In the month of August alone, SNAP served 14,422 households and 29,931 individuals providing cash food assistance totaling $3,765,065.  AARP’s volunteer tax assistance program, working out of NeighborImpact’s Redmond office, helped income-qualified working families collect $1,080,049 in tax refunds. 

“The combined impact of the assistance provided through all partners equals an often unrecognized but significant economic force in the region,” Cooper noted. 

Cooper noted that an important factor in NeighborImpact’s ability to serve is the contribution of volunteer time and funds that add to public resources in addressing the needs of economically fragile households in the region.  “We absolutely could not do what we are able to accomplish without the help of a really generous group of people,” Cooper noted.  “Central Oregon’s community spirit is one of its greatest assets.”

The number of volunteers and private and foundation funds raised in the first six months of 2016 were:

Total Volunteers


Total Volunteer Hours


Value of Volunteer Financial Contribution



Funds raised from contributions








*Value of Volunteer Hour according to Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

For more information on NeighborImpact’s programs and services and how the organization helps identify the causes of and solutions to poverty, contact NeighborImpact at 541-323-6502

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