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  • How much will you pay for me?
    Our help is not guaranteed. Your application may be denied. When we do help, we typically pay about $100 to $300. But, we could pay a lot more, or a little less, depending on many factors we can’t know until after you’ve talked to a program specialist or case manager. It’s important that you not adjust your budget to reflect help from us until we have issued our payment on your behalf.
  • What information will you want when I call for an appointment?
    You will need to provide... Your residence address A phone number you can answer for a phone appointment Details for each member of your household, including: full name, birth date, gender, marital status, disability status, veteran status, race An email address (if you would like an appointment reminder) The amount of your payment due, and the amount you need help with The reason you need assistance. You also will need to agree to an available appointment time during the day on a weekday.
  • What other information do I have to provide?
    We will need all of your income and expense information, and we may ask for proof of identification. You also may be asked about your health and health insurance. We will independently verify details of your rental or utility account with your service provider. Please note that some companies or landlords require preauthorization from you before they will release your information to us. Be sure to contact your utility or landlord to give your authorization before your appointment. Some of our funders also require other information. If money for your aid is coming from one of those sources, you may be asked for information like... Highest level of education Last four digits of Social Security Number Type of heat source Proof of diagnosis Etc.
  • Why are you asking for my race or ethnicity?
    You are not required to tell us your race, but we are required to ask. Some organizations who give us money want to know that we're spending it to help the traditionally underserved populations that they support. Examples of these funders include federal agencies, county governments, and nonprofit foundations. We ask about other basic demographic information for the same reason. However, we never use this information in decisions about whether to help an applicant. Read our full Nondiscrimination Statement.
  • What happens during my appointment?
    Your appointment will be over the phone, and a staff member or volunteer will call you. You must answer the phone. We will not give you a phone number to call the person with whom you have your appointment. If you miss our first call, we will try one more time a few minutes later. If you don't answer the second time, you will have to call back to reschedule. When we call you, you will need to be ready with your utility account number or landlord contact information. You also may be required to send us a copy of your bill or rental contract. If so, your case manager will tell you the best way to get that to us. You will be asked about your household and circumstances, which we will document in our computer database. It is important that you be able to completely explain the circumstance that led to you applying to us for help. The information you give will not be shared with third parties.
  • What happens after my appointment?
    First, we contact your landlord or utility company to verify more information, which we need to process your application. Once your account and payment information have been independently verified, we will search our available funding sources (including our local SVdP conferences) to see how much we can pay toward your need. Once available funds and your payment information have been fully verified, one of our specialists will submit a payment sheet for review by a department supervisor. The supervisor decides whether to forward the payment sheet to accounting or return it to staff for additional work. The accounting office receives supervisor-approved payment sheets and confirms whether they fully conform to agency standards. When they do, a check is cut, and sent by postal mail to your service provider. No funds are ever sent directly to a client.
  • How will I know if my application has been approved?
    One of our representatives will call or email you. Please keep in mind that it's important for you to answer your phone whenever you have an application pending with us. We may not be able to leave a message if it appears you're using a shared phone, or if your voicemail is not set up, or is full.
  • Can I still get help if I rent from a family member or friend?
    Generally, no. While we want to help everyone with genuine need, it’s more difficult to assess a client’s true circumstances when the service provider is someone with a close, personal relationship to the applicant. While we won’t pay assistance on your behalf in such a case, we may be able to help your relative with a bill if your inability to pay creates a hardship for that relative. For example, if you lose your job, and can’t pay rent you owe to your cousin, we won’t help you pay that rent. However, we would pay a utility bill in your cousin’s name, if she qualifies for help, thus reducing her overall financial burden.
  • Can I get help if I sublease, and pay rent to someone who is not the owner?
    That depends. We find that most cases where this occurs involve informal arrangements where the parties have nothing in writing. We will not help in that case. Our goal is to make sure our payment goes only to the person with the legal right to collect rent on the property you’re in. We require proof of a written rental contract, dated and signed by all the parties involved. In the case of a sublease, that means we must see a written contract not only between you and the person who collects your rent, but also between that person and the owner.
  • Do you help with motel vouchers?
    No. In very rare circumstances, we might help pay for one or two nights in a motel, but we have no certificate or voucher available for you to present as payment, or to identify you as having been approved for our aid. Because we only pay our bills by check through the U.S. Mail, most motels will not work with us. For those that do, you must already be residing in the general vicinity of that motel and a local St. Vincent de Paul conference that pays motel assistance. Those local conferences also severely restrict the circumstances under which they will pay. You’ll likely have better success with another agency. Call 2-1-1 for a referral, or visit
  • What about weekly motel rentals?
    If your regular place of residence is a motel room or suite that you rent from week to week, then we may be able to help with some of your rent. You will have to present the same proof of residence as a monthly residential renter, and the motel will have to confirm your payment terms, in addition to being willing to accept our payment by check through the mail.
  • I need gasoline or propane. How can I get help?
    Our office does not have an account with any fuel retailers, and does not have cash or a credit card to make payments for fuel. The best way for residents of Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties to find this kind of help is to call 2-1-1, or visit The 211 organization maintains the most updated list of nonprofits in Oregon, and the services they provide.
  • What bills do you help with?
    Our aid is focused on maintaining an existing residence or essential utilities. We usually do not help with fees or costs related to acquiring a new residence or moving out of one. These are the bills we commonly pay: Rent (except first or last month’s rent) Electric bill Natural gas bill Water bill
  • Are there any things you help with besides rent, utilities, and food?
    Not usually. A very small number of our conferences may pay for some other service for people who live in their specific area. For example, one SVdP conference in northeast Portland sometimes pays for heating oil for people who live within their conference boundary. Another conference in Sandy sometimes helps with firewood for people who live in Sandy. But these are unusual exceptions. The financial assistance from most conferences consists mainly of help for rent, electricity, natural gas, water, and food.
  • Are there specific bills you never help with?
    While we generally don’t pay for anything except rent and essential utilities, we never pay for any of the following: Bills in collections Cable TV Charges for property damage or maintenance Internet service Late fees or charges Student loans
  • Does where I live affect how much help I can get?
    Yes. Much of our funding comes from St. Vincent de Paul volunteers at Catholic churches around northwestern Oregon. These volunteers form separate nonprofit groups called conferences, which set their own guidelines about what kinds of help they will give, and how much they will pay. The conferences also typically require that their funds be spent on people in their local area. Not all conferences are able to raise the same amount of money, or have the same number of people seeking aid. As a result, different conferences have different amounts of aid that they can give per client.
  • Does every community have a St. Vincent de Paul conference?
    No. Not every community has a Catholic church, and not every Catholic church has a St. Vincent de Paul conference. It is up to local Catholics to decide how they want to be involved in their communities, and what kinds of work they are capable of doing. Even if your local community doesn’t have a St. Vincent de Paul conference, our regional Portland Council office may be able to provide some help. If our council staff doesn’t have aid available, we may be able to direct you to another resource. If you need help, call our council office's hotline for rent, utility and food assistance: 503-235-8431.
  • Does the Council office take applications for all local conferences in its area?
    No. Our council office takes aid requests for more than half of our conferences, most of them in Clackamas and Multnomah counties. But most of our conferences in Washington County take their own applications directly from clients, as do our conferences in Clatsop and Columbia counties. Rarely, our council office, in southeast Portland, may get special, unexpected funding to fill a need outside our usual service area. When that happens, we may be able to work with an applicant where a St. Vincent de Paul conference already provides help. But most times, when people call from one of those conference areas, we will have to refer them to the local conference to apply. Call our hotline if you have questions.
  • What happens if the St. Vincent de Paul conference in my area is out of funds?
    You may have to wait until a later month to get help. Some conferences run out of funds occasionally. Others run out more often. Wherever you live, there will be times that the demand for our assistance exceeds available funding. Sometimes we can lessen the blow by arranging a small amount to tide you over until you can get help from another agency. Other times we will have to tell you to call back at a later date, or deny your application. No matter what the case, we will do our best to help and advise you.
  • If I get help at one address and then move, can I get help again at the new address?
    It depends. Most of our aid comes with time restrictions, meaning you can get help every so many months or years. If the time has not run out since your last aid, you will not likely be able to get help again until it does. On the other hand, if you move into an area where the local conference has a shorter restriction on the amount of time before you can get help again, you might be able to qualify. The best way to find out is to call us.
  • Why do you collect information about my children and other household members?
    We collect household member information for three main reasons: (a) to get a fuller picture of your household’s collective circumstances, (b) to satisfy funders who require aggregated demographic information about the clients they pay for, and (c) to lessen the incidence of fraud. However, we will never ask for financial information, such as social security numbers, bank account numbers, passwords or PINs. All of our staff and volunteers specifically commit to nondisclosure of your information to third parties. We keep your information private, and our database system employs advanced security protection that is fully HIPAA-compliant.
  • Can I get help from St. Vincent de Paul if I have been helped by another agency?
    Generally, yes. St. Vincent de Paul does not deny help based solely on whether you’ve recently gotten aid elsewhere. We are interested in your complete financial situation. While we want as many people as possible to get help, we don’t want to turn away someone who has come to us in need just to satisfy a data point. That said, some of our funders include recent prior aid as a criterion they require us to consider in deciding how much to award. We also typically limit aid based on how recently you received prior assistance from St. Vincent de Paul, or one of its affiliates.
  • Can I get help from another agency if I have been helped by St. Vincent de Paul?
    Maybe. Each agency sets its own policies, so we can’t answer for another organization. However, we know that there are some agencies that will deny assistance if you’ve received aid from another charitable organization. If your need is so great that you think you might have to apply to multiple agencies, it’s important that you contact each one to ask about their policies and restrictions.
  • How do I file a complaint of abuse or discrimination?
    In accordance with St. Vincent de Paul policies on Safeguarding and Nondiscrimination, any person who has been the victim of abuse, exploitation or discrimination should file a complaint. We take seriously our obligation to safeguard the people we work with and serve. Read our Safeguarding Policy. If you want to file a complaint and don’t know whom to contact at your local conference, use our Contact form to reach our Council office. Depending on the nature of your complaint, you may also want to contact another agency, such as the Oregon Food Bank, local law enforcement, or federal authorities. Learn more by reading our Nondiscrimination Statement.
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