HOUSTON – Harris County is seeking to help 20,000 families who need help staying afloat due to COVID-19.
The Harris County Recovery Assistance will provide one-time payments of $1,500 to families whose financial situation has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to a press release. The $30 million relief fund will accept applications from July 28 through Aug. 11.
Officials noted that the current ban on evictions is set to expire on July 31.
According to the release, families can apply to this fund without cooperation from a landlord since the money can be used for any type of urgent expense such as housing, groceries, utilities, healthcare, childcare, transportation, etc.
The program is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act and is administered by Catholic Charities, per the release.
To qualify for the program, applicants must live within Harris County (inside or outside City of Houston limits), be 18 years or older, must have experienced pandemic-related economic hardship, must not exceed the maximum financial threshold (a member of the household must receive public assistance, or the total household income must be less than 60% of the HUD Area Median Family Income), per the release. Also, due to federal requirements, at least one adult member of the household must be a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, refugee, or another qualified noncitizen.
All qualifying households within Harris County are encouraged to apply at HarrisCountyRelief.org. Officials said households will be selected randomly, and the funding will be distributed by late fall, per the release.
If an applicant needs help with the application process, due to technological or language barriers, five community-based organizations have been tapped to assist, such as Hope Disaster Recovery, Humble Area Assistance Ministries, East Harris County Empowerment Council, Memorial Assistance Ministries, and YMCA of Greater Houston.
Beginning July 28, people may call 832-345-6289 on Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“How we respond to the most vulnerable in our community will be the key to our region’s economic recovery,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “Over the past year, millions of families in Harris County have relied on cash infusions - from federal stimulus payments to local relief programs - to stay housed, clothed, and healthy. As other protections expire, these direct payments will serve as a vital bridge to a permanent recovery from this pandemic.”