HOUSTON — A $15 million fund is on its way to being distributed to Harris County residents who are in the most need during the coronavirus pandemic.
“A pandemic response that excludes any members of our communities will weaken its effectiveness,” Commissioner Rodney Ellis said. “Our community is only as healthy as our most vulnerable neighbors, including those who are undocumented immigrants. Additionally, undocumented immigrant households in Harris County pay $742 million in federal taxes and $448 million in local and state taxes.”
The relief fund will provide support for rent, food, medical care, child care and other expenses.
It has been approved by the Harris County Commissioners Court and is awaiting approval from the Harris County Attorney’s Office.
Estimations are that the Houston metro area lost more than 200,000 low-income jobs. Since March 15, nearly 170,000 initial unemployment claims have been filed by Harris County residents. To put it in perspective, about 7% of the labor force in the county filed for unemployment over the last four weeks.
The fund will provide relief for "students and adults with disabilities who are listed as dependents, undocumented immigrants, domestic violence survivors, people experiencing homelessness and children who have aged out of foster care."
According to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, in order to be eligible to receive money, residents must have a household income below 70% of the federal "Area Median Income," which is about $53,400 for a family of four.
“The Coronavirus pandemic has created both a health and a financial crisis,” Ellis said. “Without financial assistance, those who lost their income due to the pandemic have to choose between physical or financial survival.”
The relief fund will be managed by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.
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