by Rob Nosse

What a difference a month has made. To say it is a totally different world since my last column feels like a complete understatement.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is scary for just about everyone in our community. We’re all facing an unprecedented amount of uncertainty.

One thing is sure: the sacrifices our community is making to stay home and stay safe is making a difference. Oregon is flattening the curve and saving lives. It’s inspiring to watch our city and our state come together to collectively make a difference.

At the same time, just about every day during this crisis, I’ve talked to people struggling in our community. I’ve spoken many times to the owner of a small business on Hawthorne Blvd. unsure about how they will reopen. I’ve been on the phone multiple times with the Employment Department on behalf of quite a few people with particularly complex situations as they try to file for unemployment.

Many of you have reached out, concerned that we don’t have enough testing and wondering what the state is doing to increase capacity.

When people ask me what I think about all this, here are a few of the observations I share:

First, I’m glad our Governor has been very cautious and issued important executive orders to keep us safe. I strongly support Governor Brown’s eviction freeze for residential and commercial tenants. I also believe it is only a first step.

We need a rent and mortgage freezes for renters, homeowners and small business owners for the length of this crisis. We must protect our community from a crisis they didn’t create and can’t control and preserve what is so great about living in this part of Portland.

Second, we have to make sure our crisis response and long term recovery doesn’t leave anybody behind. I serve on the Emergency Board of the Legislature and I’m proud to have voted for investments–millions of dollars in emergency funding for rental assistance, housing for people experiencing domestic violence during this crisis, targeted support for small businesses who are suffering, investments in COVID-19 testing for frontline workers and allocating millions to the Oregon Worker Relief Fund, which supports immigrant workers in Oregon who are being left out of the Federal Stimulus package.

There is much more work to do but these actions are critical first steps.

Third, we know that we can’t rely on the Trump administration to fight for our community. When the Governor calls us into Session, I will fight for more support for small business owners who have been forced to temporarily shut their doors and I’ll continue to push to make sure workers are getting faster access to their unemployment benefits.

Fourth, I don’t know when exactly this crisis will begin to wind down and our community will be able to reopen, returning us to our normal social activities. I know how challenging this is for our community and I don’t want it to last any longer than it has to, but I believe medical professionals and scientists must guide these decisions.

Please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 503.986.1442 or rep.robnosse@oregonlegislature. gov. My staff and I are working every day to connect people in our community to resources to help them and their loved ones weather this crisis.

I thank all of you for the steps you are taking to keep our community safe. What I have learned in all my years of organizing in the student, LGBTQ and union movements are that we will get through this together with solidarity for one another.