How to help Houston's furloughed federal workers

By Sophia Beausoleil - Reporter, Brittany Taylor - Digital News Editor

HOUSTON - Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced that the city is partnering with Houston Relief Hub and several other nonprofit groups to help furloughed federal employees with emergency assistance during the government shutdown.

On Tuesday, furloughed federal employees who are in need of the assistance will be able to apply for a $100 voucher provided by Helping Hands and information about the organizations and private sectors that are providing the assistance. Turner said the public will also have an opportunity at one central location to make donations such as non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, diapers and gift cards or cash.

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"There appears to be no end in sight to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, and we want to do our part to help fellow Houstonians in their time of need," Turner said. "We will be connecting individuals with resources and information on how to apply for immediate assistance. We hope to ease the burden of federal employees who, through no fault of their own, are being forced to make a huge personal sacrifice." 

The Houston Relief Hub founder, Bill Baldwin, said the organization will coordinate with volunteers to accept and process donations.

"Just as in the days following Harvey, we understand the shutdown has an exponential effect on individuals and families. Our goal is to connect those who desire to help their fellow Houstonians with those who need our help, and vice versa, while sharing resources to ensure basic needs are met. All are encouraged to contact us in this uncertain time to see how we can support one another," Baldwin said.

Mario Castillo also with the Houston Relief Hub said, "These people go to work and they work for the country and they do a great job and they're facing a situation they probably weren't anticipating and now that this has dragged on over a month, they're probably facing financial needs that they weren't expecting." 

He said people can drop off non-perishable items like diapers, animal food etc. to 833 Studewood St. for the time being until the setup donation locations are set up.

Renea Gray with Helping hands said, "We will be presorting items for day-to-day needs, toilet paper, paper towels dishwashing liquid, washing powder, Clorox. We'll have all of those items presorted and ready for pickup. Also, we would give out a box of food that will contain at least five days of food in there."

Baldwin said there are about 35,000 government employees who have been without pay since Dec. 22, 2018. Volunteers are also needed and Baldwin said people can sign up on the website as well. 

“If you want to volunteer, we’ll take you, across the region, if you want to donate, we’ll take your donation, whatever you have, if you have a need, that’s really what we want to hear from,” Baldwin said. 

For a full list of available shutdown assistance, resources can be found on the Houston Relief Hub website and will be updated regularly with helpful information to furloughed federal employees. To learn more, click the link here.

Houstonians are also asked to submit tips about shutdown-related resources and deals to Help@Houstonreliefhub.org.

“I think the mayor put it best. We need to help those people that need help. They’re feeling a sense of desperation, there’s uncertainty, it could last a long time, we all hope it ends today, this hour, but we’re just unsure, and so instead of doing nothing, let’s do what we can to help those in our immediate area in need,” Baldwin explained.

Turner said no city financial resources will be used for this project.

 

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