With Houston reported to be the No. 3 worst-hit city in the U.S. during the pandemic, a new $40 million COVID-19 relief fund, issued by Harris County, is set to offer aid to locals in need. The fund opens Monday, November 2, and will accept applications through Friday, November 6.
The new Harris County COVID-19 Emergency Direct Assistance Fund will be administered by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and will provide one-time payments of $1200 to up to 33,333 families struggling with financial hardship related to COVID-19, according to a press release. Funds can be used for any type of emergency expense (housing, food, utilities, healthcare, childcare, transportation, etc.); families can apply on their own without cooperation from a landlord or anyone else.
“Thousands of families across Harris County have struggled to overcome the financial damage from COVID-19,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, in a statement. “While this relief will not reach everyone who needs it, we must do everything in our power to help those who are vulnerable pull through.”
Monies will be distributed equally across Harris County’s four precincts and the fund is completely need-based. Harris County residents living inside the City of Houston are eligible to apply. For fairness, households are being selected from the larger pool of applicants using a random statistical model that ensures no discrimination, per a release.
Payments will be distributed in two rounds. Applicants must be able to prove pandemic-related hardship (e.g., unpaid bills); and must meet the required financial threshold (e.g. one member of their household must be enrolled in a public assistance program, or the total household income must be less than 60 percent of the HUD Area Median Family Income).
A detailed list of the criteria and acceptable documentation can be viewed here.