The global pandemic has wreaked havoc on families in need. But in a much-needed bright spot, a local organization has initiated help to those hardest hit by the COVID downturn.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston announced that more than 51,000 families have received aid from the $61.4 million from the Harris County COVID-19 Emergency Direct Assistance Program.
Need-based funds came courtesy of the county’s CARES funding and provided a one-time, $1,200 payment to 51,167 eligible applicants, per a press release.
Money was distributed nearly equally across Harris County’s four precincts (except for the Precinct 2 surplus), including Houston residents inside Harris County.
To ensure fairness, families were selected from the application pool using a random statistical model that ensured no discrimination, according to Catholic Charities. Funds could be used for any type of emergency expense (housing, food, utilities, healthcare, childcare, transportation, etc.), and families could apply without cooperation from a landlord.
Breaking down the numbers provided in a press release, Harris County initially designated $40 million for the fund; another $20 million was allocated in November. An additional $1.4 million was allocated to the Direct Assistance fund and was earmarked directly for Precinct 2 recipients due to a shortfall of participants in the County’s Small Business Grant Program, bringing the program’s total to $61.4 million.
Even non-citizen residents who were unable to obtain CARES money due to federal grant requirements will be helped thanks to private funds; those monies are currently being distributed, according to the charity.
Meanwhile, the program provided jobs to nearly 250 laid-off residents, injecting $2.2. million into the local economy.
“Catholic Charities is honored and grateful that Harris County selected our team to serve the community in this way,” said Catholic Charities’ president and CEO Cynthia N. Colbert, in a statement. “This task was in line with our faith-based mission, which compels us to ensure that every client is treated with respect and dignity.”