HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Wednesday marks the final day to apply for the Harris County Recovery Assistance program.
Editor's Note: The above video was first published on July 28, 2021.
Officials said a one-time payment of $1,500 will be given directly to 20,000 eligible families living in Harris County. The money will be sent out in late fall with the option of direct deposit or certified mail.
It's all funded through the American Rescue Plan Act. Recipients can use the money for any type of urgent expense, such as housing, groceries, utilities, medical bills and childcare.
Catholic Charities said 50,000 applications were received within five hours but said that shouldn't deter others from applying.
“I think what it tells us is that their families are out there that are struggling and really it is our time to step up and help them as much as possible,” Vice President of Programs for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Shannon Strother said.
Officials said the program is not first-come, first-served. It prioritizes applicants in the lowest income bracket and applications are processed at random.
Strother said because the applications will be selected at random to be processed, eligible applicants should apply between now and the Aug. 11 deadline.
“($1,500) Might not mean a lot to people that aren't struggling day today, but it means a lot to a family that's really having to make the decision between do they pay rent or can they buy groceries or medicine,” Strother said.
The Houston Apartment Association reports that Houston-area renters have received $129 million in rental relief assistance during the pandemic.
“Nobody wants an eviction,” Houston Apartment Association President John Boriack said. “And really, Houston and Texas, particularly, has been a model for the country on how to do rental assistance programs effectively. There's really no evidence to say that there's going to be this big wave of evictions or tsunami of evictions hit the courts.”
If you don’t qualify for this $1,500 boost, call 211 or check with Catholic Charities and BakerRipley for other forms of assistance.
How to qualify
Recipients must meet the following requirements:
- Households must be within Harris County (inside or outside City of Houston limits).
- Applicant must be 18 years or older (or be an emancipated minor).
- Households must self-certify that they have experienced economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Household must have at least one member enrolled in a public assistance program, or a total household income at or below 60% of the HUD Area Median Family Income ($33,300 for one person; $47,520 for a family of 4).
- One payment will be made per family unit. If housing is shared by more than one family unit, each family unit may apply.
- As required by federal guidelines, at least one adult member of the household must be a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, refugee, or other qualified noncitizen.
How to apply
You must apply online at HarrisCountyRelief.org.
You will be asked for proof of ID, proof of residency within Harris County, and documentation of public benefits OR that the household income is at or below 60% HUD Area Median Family Income.
A list of acceptable documentation can be found on the Harris County Relief website.
If you have any questions, the call center is available at 832-345-6289 on weekdays from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. It's also open Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
If you don't have access to a computer or internet, help is available in-person at the following non-profit organizations, according to the county.
- Hope Disaster Recovery
- Humble Area Assistance Ministries
- East Harris County Empowerment Council
- Memorial Assistance Ministries
- YMCA of Greater Houston locations
Find specific addresses and other locations here.