Oregon sex workers can now apply for pandemic relief money

The money came from an original $45 million pot given to Oregon through the CARES Act.

Posted: Nov 12, 2020 6:46 PM
Updated: Nov 12, 2020 6:53 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- With businesses across all industries being impacted by the coronavirus, sex workers can now apply for monetary relief too.

The Oregon Health Authority awarded a $600,000 grant to Haymarket Pole Collective in Portland. This organization advocates for sex workers rights, specifically workers of color. For those who have been financially impacted by COVID-19, sex workers across Oregon can apply for some of that money. The money came from an original $45 million pot given to Oregon through the CARES Act.

Ibrhaim Coulibaly, the president of the Eugene-Springfield NAACP chapter, said this money is important for this industry because many workers do not have access to the same unemployment right as others.

"They do not have regular jobs that pay taxes because the job is not legal in many states," Coulibaly said. "They cannot have unemployment."

Coulibaly said being a sex worker doesn't necessarily mean prostitution. He said it's anyone who works in the industry, like an exotic dancer at a bar.

An organizer for Black Unity, Ty Ford, said the state awarding this grant to Haymarket Pole Collective gives the sex worker industry and their rights legitimacy.

"It's definitely a big help for everyone who works as sex workers," Ford said. "They work hard at the job they go to every signal day and they deserve money given to them, just like everybody else."

Coulibaly echoed that feeling.

"I'm glad to see that finally, the state started to recognize sex workers are also human and as humans, they have some rights in this country."

Officials from Haymarket Pole Collective said any sex worker in Oregon can apply, but they need to have been financially impacted by the pandemic. They also said priority will go to sex workers who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

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