HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — If you weren't able to get financial help over the summer, Harris County has launched a new COVID-19 relief program for struggling families.
The Harris County COVID-19 Emergency Direct Assistance Fund is budgeted at $40 million and is available to any county resident, regardless of whether they live inside Houston city limits.
[Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified who was eligible for the funds. This story has been updated with the correct information.]
It provides households with a one-time payment of $1,200 that can be used for housing, food, utilities, healthcare, childcare, transportation or any other urgent need.
Application process starts Monday, Nov. 2
The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, which is tasked with running the program, will be accepting applications from Nov. 2 - Nov. 6.
According to officials, funds will be given to 33,333 families evenly spread out across Harris County's four precincts. Recipients will be selected from the larger pool of applicants using a random statistical model that ensures no discrimination, the county said.
Currently, the fund is assisting residents who didn't receive help from the Harris County COVID-19 Relief Fund program over the summer. During this time, those residents are asked to update their previous application in order to be considered for the new funding program.
How to qualify
In order to qualify, you must be able to prove pandemic-related hardship (e.g., unpaid bills).
Applicants must also must meet the required financial threshold. In addition, one member of the household must be enrolled in a public assistance program or the total household income must be less than 60% of the HUD Area Median Family Income.
A detailed list of the criteria and acceptable documentation are available at CatholicCharitiesHelp.org.
You don't have to be Catholic or a certain religious faith to qualify for assistance.
How to apply
Applicants may apply online at CatholicCharitiesHelp.org during the public application, which is Nov. 2 - 6.
Since the application process requires applicants to upload documents, all applications must be submitted online. Families can apply on their own without cooperation from a landlord or anyone else.
Be prepared to provide the following documents:
- valid ID
- proof of economic impact due to COVID-19 (i.e. discharge/lay-off letter, TWC letter)
- Proof at least one person in the household is get public assistance or that the household income is below 60% of the HUD Area Median Family Income
- Proof of need for assistance (i.e. unpaid rent/mortgage or utility bill)
Applicants who want help or who have questions may call the hotline at 832-990-1318. Hotline hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Applicants are encouraged to check their spam folder and to promptly respond to calls/texts about assistance from Harris County, to ensure they do not miss out on the opportunity for aid.
How will money be received?
After applicants are approved, they can opt to receive the funds by bank transfer, by certified mail, or in-person pick-up.
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