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Applying for unemployment, new jobs, and rent relief after lay-offs due to COVID-19

The Texas Unemployment Insurance (UI) program pays benefits to people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

HOUSTON — With businesses closing and reducing employees' hours due to COVID-19, many people are struggling to pay their bills, but there is help.


The Texas Workforce Commission is waiving work search requirements for all claimants and the waiting week for those claimants affected by COVID-19. 

"Department of Labor guidance provides that federal law permits significant flexibility for states to provide Unemployment Insurance (UI) services related to COVID-19," the Texas Workforce Commission website states.

TWC announced increased call volume due to COVID-19, and is encouraging people to apply for those benefits online.

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"We also encourage you to sign up for Electronic Correspondence so you can receive your TWC communications online as soon as possible. If you are new to UBS, you will need to create a TWC Internet User ID when you first log on."

TWC acknowledged the website is facing a huge visitor volume, and was also experiencing technical difficulties on Friday.

RELATED: How to file for unemployment in Texas if your job is affected by coronavirus

If you have any questions or concerns about participating in the hearing related to COVID-19, please contact your hearing officer directly using the contact information on your Notice of Hearing. 

TWC offers this advice:

  • Be patient. Although TWC is processing claims as quickly as possible, it can take at least four weeks for TWC to determine whether you are eligible for benefits. To find out the status of your claim:
    •  Log on to UBS and select Claim and Payment Status.
    • Call Tele-Serv at 800-558-8321 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and select Option 2.
  • If you are experiencing financial hardship or need health assistance because of COVID-19, dial 2-1-1, the Texas Social Services Hotline, to get the help you need.


Clay Hicks, president of the Houston Apartment Association, said they have instructed their more than 3,000 apartment communities in the Houston area to waive late fees and set up payment plans for those whose livelihoods have been affected by COVID-19.

"Go immediately to your property manager and talk to them," said HAA president Clay Hicks. "We want to be your partner through this. The sooner you come to us and talk through your situation, the sooner we have time to help you through your situation."

However, he mentioned that people whose paychecks have not been affected by COVID-19 should continue to pay rent in full.

If people try to avoid paying rent, it could cause problems for the companies that own apartment complexes, including possibly having to close a community if the company cannot pay the operating costs.

RELATED: Renters' relief: What you can do if you can't afford to pay

RELATED: Trump: HUD to suspend foreclosures, evictions through April


Tons of service industry jobs are hiring: Walmart, CVS, and local grocery stores such as H-E-B, Kroger, Randall's, and more are welcoming people who have been laid off or furloughed.

FULL LIST | Need a job? Houston-area stores, other businesses hiring right now

H-E-B approved a $2/hour raise for all hourly store, manufacturing, warehouse and transportation Partners effective 3/16-4/12 

Yani Hurst with CVS said the company has more than 170 open positions in the Houston area, from pharmacy technicians to warehouse jobs to management.

She said they are accelerating the hiring process due to COVID-19 through virtual job fairs, virtual interviews, and virtual job tryouts.

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