Blogs: Community Services

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act) was passed into law in 2010, Photo of a stethoscopebut the reforms that it requires are spread out over time. You can get all sorts of information about the law on a federal level, including the full-text of it, at, a website created by the United States Department of Health & Human Services.

A major aspect of the law that will go into effect soon is the creation of Health Insurance Marketplaces in each state. These marketplaces will provide information on insurance plans for consumers to compare, with costs laid out up-front. According to the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Srvcs., “most people will be able to get a break on costs through the Marketplace.” Information about coverage and enrollment in health insurance through these marketplaces is required to be provided beginning in October 2013. Coverage will start in January 2014.

The marketplace for Oregon will be called Cover Oregon. Visit their website to learn about the marketplace, sign up for email updates, and use a calculator to estimate if you will qualify for financial assistance. There is also a frequently-asked-question section with answers to many questions that you might have about the program.

There are also several other health care programs that already exist and provide assistance to individuals who qualify: the Oregon Health Plan and the Healthy Kids programs are both administered by the Oregon Health Authority. The Oregon Prescription Drug Program is a program to help uninsured or underinsured Oregonian get access to discounted prescription medicine. A good way to find more assistance programs is to call 2-1-1, a statewide, free referral service.

At the end of this post is a list of books that explore the history and debates around health care in the United States. If you still have any questions about health care, remember that you can always ask a librarian! We are here to help you find the answers that YOU need.

Update, 7/28/13:

You may have seen ads on Trimet buses around town, advertising health coverage from “Oregon’s Health CO-OP”. This is not the same thing as Cover Oregon. The Oregon’s Health CO-OP is going to be a new nonprofit health insurance provider which will begin enrolling customers on October 1, 2013, and will begin providing health insurance coverage on January 1, 2014. Funding for new, consumer-owned (co-op) health insurance providers is part of the Affordable Care Act - each state was originally required to have one of these nonprofit providers (although this requirement has since been removed), but Oregon is going to have two of them! The Oregon’s Health CO-OP and another co-op called Health Republic were both approved by Cover Oregon and will be offered along with other health insurance providers in the new Cover Oregon marketplace.

You can read more about these co-ops in this 5/13/13 article from Oregon Live: “Oregon upstart health co-ops to challenge mainstream insurers”.

Become a tutor

Multnomah County Library Volunteer Services 

Volunteer Literacy Tutoring at Portland Community College

Portland Literacy Council

Support for tutors

ThinkFinity Resources and discussion on the latest trends in education

Talk to the Clouds A blog about learning and teaching language

Making it Real: Teaching Pre-Literate Adult Refugee Students (PDF 1.5 MB)

At your Multnomah County Libraries, you can find a wide array of free computer classes - from computer labs where you can get extra assistance to e-book and e-reader classes to office productivity skills, like spreadsheets and word processing.  Here are some other great options:

  • Portland Community College (PCC) - offers a wide variety of computer and IT courses, tailored to fit your situation - find out more about their computer education programs
  • Mt Hood Community College (MHCC) - for East County residents, MHCC offers many in-person and online computer classes through their Community Education program
  • Portland Parks & Recreation - offers basic computer and Internet classes for senior

The following organizations and agencies can help you locate a variety of free or low-cost social services in the Portland area.  Social services include housing, shelter, food, laundry services, mental health counseling as well as referrals to other services.  You might also visit the links  under community services.

211info: information and referral
A comprehensive support hub for referrals to food, shelter, housing, foreclosure assistance, health care, and much more.   Calls are confidential, anonymous and free. Certified Information and Referral Specialists assess the situation and refer callers using a locally managed database of over 4,200 programs in Oregon and Southwest Washington.   Telephone interpreters are available for help in more than 150 languages.

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare
Cascadia provides mental health counseling for people with psychiatric and substance use challenges.  They provide crisis intervention, addictions treatment, and housing services for people who are very low-income.  Their website includes contact information as well as links to additional resources outside of the area.

Multnomah County Mental Health & Addictions Services
Provides mental health services to adults, children and families. They serve Oregon Health Plan members as well as people who have no insurance or resources. 

Outside In
Outside In is a community resource for homeless youth.  They provide health services, counseling and shelter, as well as programs and education.

Portland Women’s Crisis Line
Offers 24 hour telephone crisis counseling for victims of domestic and sexual violence.  The organization also offers support groups and direct service counseling for victims of domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse.

Rose City Resource
Street Roots publishes this very comprehensive online directory of services for people experiencing homelessness and poverty in  Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties.  It is continuously updated.

Transition Projects
This organization can help with a variety of services including showers, food box vouchers, clothing, laundry services, Tri-met tickets, information and referral and housing search assistance.


There are many organizations and groups in the Portland Metro area that offer free or low-cost health services for all ages.  

211info: information and referral Oregon and Southwest Washington's comprehensive support hub for referrals to food, shelter, housing, foreclosure assistance, health care, and much more.  Calls are confidential, anonymous and free.  Telephone interpreters are available for help in more than 150 languages.

Cascade Aids Project works to prevent HIV infections, support and empower people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS, and eliminate HIV/AIDS-related stigma.  They offer a hotline for counseling and referral,  HIV testing, educational programs and speakers, as well as Pivot, a space "dedicated to the physical, personal, and social health of gay/bi/trans and all men into men".

Coalition of Community Health Clinics
If you are low-income or uninsured and need medical assistance, this website offers health information and contact information for clinics, flu shots, prescription assistance, and other free or low cost medical services in the tri-county area.

Multnomah County Aging and Disability Services
A resource for seniors and people with disabilities, this site offers a 24-hour helpline with information and referral for housing needs, home health care needs, meals and more. 

Multnomah County Health Department
Multnomah County provides low-cost family health care to underserved, low-income and uninsured residents of Multnomah County at seven different locations

Oregon Helps
This screening tool and resource helps you determine eligibility for thirty-three different assistance programs, including the Oregon Prescription Drug Program and the Medical Assistance for Children, Adults and Families program.  The site can be viewed in Spanish, Vietnamese and Russian.

Oregon Safenet
A partner organization of 211 Info, Safenet can help you find free or low-cost health care and other important services in your community.

Returning Veterans Project This local resource offers free counseling and other health services for returning veterans and their families.  You can search a database of local providers to find someone for your specific needs. 

Library computers are available for writing resumes, filling out job applications, networking and brushing up your computer skills. Library computers have Internet access and Microsoft Office and they are available at each of our locations, along with staff to help you get started.  To sign up for a computer, you just need a library card or you can request a guest pass with you valid picture ID.  

Have your own laptop or mobile device? Multnomah County libraries offer free wi-fi.

Already have your resume typed up and you just need to print? Access your documents from the Internet or your flash drive and print for 10 cents a page, either single or double-sided.  Only black and white printing is available.

Look to these resources to help you find work, and get assistance in the meantime.

Adjusting to Suddenly Reduced Income

This publication guides people through the processes of emotional reactions, spending patterns, rethinking goals and managing conflict for anyone experiencing financial loss.

Unemployment claims

File for Unemployment Benefits online through

Oregon Helps

This website estimates if you qualify for various types of assistance and explains where to apply for programs and has some applications to download.

Job seekers 

Listings of local and national jobs, resources for resume writing and networking, and information for those planning a career change.

Computer Labs for Job Seekers

Update your resume, file for unemployment, or apply for jobs.

There are many online resources out there to help you research Oregon law, here are a few we use at the library to help patrons with their legal questions.

Insurance Division of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services

Information on insurance laws and regulations in Oregon.

Multnomah County Code v. 1-2

Multnomah County Code. Volume 1 available at this site with a link to Volume 2 (Zoning).

Online Code and Charter of the City of Portland, Oregon

Check the preface to see the date of last update.

Oregon Courts

Oregon Justice Department (OJD). Includes a useful self-help section.

Oregon Courts - Family Law

Provides information about family law services and resources in Oregon, and offers optional statewide forms for use in family law proceedings. Provides up-to-date information about divorce in Oregon.

Oregon Law Help

Links to free legal help for low-income Oregonians. Available in English, Spanish, Russian and Vietnamese. Links to similar sites in other states. Provided by ProbonoNet.

Oregon Laws 2009

The 2009 Oregon Laws contain all laws enacted during the 2009 regular session of the Oregon Legislative Assembly and amendments to the Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure by the Council on Court Procedures.

Oregon Legal Research

Provides information to the public about legal research and getting help with legal questions. It contains information on getting started with legal research, a blog with posts related to current legal questions and issues, ways to get legal help at low or no cost, and contact info for law libraries around the state.

Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) - 2011 Edition

Includes citizen guide, contact information, legislative reviews and more.

Search Oregon Revised Statutes or Legislative Measures

Search in the Statutes, Oregon Laws from 2003-2007, or in Legislative Measures from the 1995-2007/08 Sessions.

Opinions of the Oregon Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Tax Court

Slip opinions published by Oregon Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Tax Court. Opinions at this website are subject to copy correction prior to preliminary publication in the Advance Sheets and final publication in the bound volumes of the Oregon Reports. Once opinions are published in the Advance Sheets, they are deleted from this Web site.

Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR)

Published by the Archives Division, Oregon Secretary of State. Includes a numerical index by chapter numbers, an alphabetical index by agency and a search engine.

Oregon Legal Resource Center

Collection of Oregon legal information maintained by the Oregon State Bar (OSB). The section on Legal Information for the Public includes information about laws that affect people's daily lives and tips on selecting and working with a lawyer.

Oregon Attorney General's Consumer Protection

Includes information about specific consumer topics, including used car sales and sweepstakes. Provides a consumer complaint form and address.

Oregon Corporation Division's Business Registry and Renewal

Forms which may be printed, filled out and filed with the Corporation Division.


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