Who qualifies for the $30M Harris County coronavirus relief fund?

HOUSTON – Harris County commissioners approved money for a fund last month that is aimed at helping those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Eligibility requirements for the fund were announced Thursday.

Commissioners originally set aside $15 million for the fund when they approved the measure but doubled that amount last week.

The $30 million fund, which will be administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, is open to Harris County residents only. About 20,000 households are expected to apply for assistance.

Here is a closer look at the criteria people must meet in order to apply for assistance, according to county leaders.

What are the eligibility requirements?

  • Those who have experienced adverse economic impact related to COVID-19; AND are:
    • Households below 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI), or are accessing public benefits that already confirm they are very low-income; or
    • Survivors of domestic violence, or
    • Youth aged out of foster care, or
    • Those in homeless shelters.
  • Applicants cannot have received benefits from any City of Houston or other Harris County program administered for the same purpose.
  • Prioritized consideration for:
    • Applicants ineligible for unemployment insurance or have applied and will take too long to receive assistance to meet basic needs.
    • Applicants ineligible for CARES Economic Impact Payments, or have not yet received a payment and cannot wait for the assistance to meet basic needs.

How will the money be disbursed?

The money will be disbursed in two ways, county leaders said.

First, the money will be disbursed through trusted organizations with a deep understanding of the communities they serve. The organizations will work with people to complete an application, verify eligibility and provide assistance.

Second, low-income residents will be allowed to complete an application through a call center and/or a website to participate in a randomized process. If chosen, officials will match the individual or family with a community-based organization to complete the disbursement process. The public will be given a week’s notice for when this process will be opened.

When will the money be disbursed?

The first round of grants to the organizations is expected to begin in June, officials said.

What should I do in the meantime?

Officials asked people who are in need of immediate assistance to call 211, where operators will help connect them with an organization that can help.

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