FREE MONEY!: Harris County adds $30 Million to Covid Relief Fund to help more families in need

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HOUSTON (CW39) It’s more relief that many Harris County families have been hoping would come. Now the Harris County Recovery Assistance program, known as HCRA is allowing the program to reopen for additional applications. Starting this Wednesday, September 8 and running through Sunday, September 12, you can apply for funds from this program. From the $30 million dollars added to the program, to help with Covid Relief, 20,000 families will each receive $1,500. The program is administered by Catholic Charities and provides $1500 one-time grants to Harris County families struggling due to COVID-related layoffs and wage reductions. 

Courtesy: Harris County Recovery Assistance Program

The program is open to renters and homeowners alike.  People can apply on their own without cooperation from a landlord or mortgage company, since the money can be used for any type of urgent expense (housing, groceries, utilities, healthcare, childcare, transportation, etc.).  To ensure fairness, households will be selected randomly, and all funding will be distributed by late fall. Since COVID’s economic impact has created financial instability for families who have never before needed public aid, additional money has been allocated so more applicants can be helped.  For this program, a family experiencing pandemic-related financial hardship may apply as long as one member of the household has legal status, and if the total household income falls below 60% of the HUD Area Median Family Income ($33,300 for one person; $47,520 for a family of four).

“We’ve seen an overwhelming need for continued, direct assistance to help families meet their basic needs. While a $1,500 payment will not lift a family out of poverty, it can help someone stay healthy and housed.  We also know from experience that when struggling families receive financial assistance, they put that money back into the economy.”

Lina Hidalgo/ Harris County Judge

As with other recent COVID relief funds, additional nonprofits have been engaged to serve as navigators, to provide assistance with the application process to families that have technological or language barriers.  The agencies include Hope Disaster Recovery, Humble Area Assistance Ministries (HAAM), and East Harris County Empowerment Council.  Navigators’ locations and contact information will be listed at HarrisCountyRelief.org when the application opens.

“This pandemic isn’t just a public health crisis; it has deepened economic inequality across Harris County. It makes sense that we ensure we have as many people as possible to apply for these funds. Reaching communities most affected by the pandemic is key to recovery for all of us.”

Rodney Ellis/ Precinct 1 Commissioner

The program qualifications are the same as before: applicants must live within Harris County (inside or outside City of Houston limits), be 18 years or older, must have experienced pandemic-related economic hardship, must not exceed the maximum financial threshold (a member of the household must receive public assistance, or the total household income must be less than 60% of the HUD Area Median Family Income).  Also, due to federal requirements, at least one adult member of the household must be a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, refugee, or other qualified noncitizen. FAQs, the application (available when the program opens on September 8), and information on navigator agencies to help people apply are at HarrisCountyRelief.org.  Also, people with questions may call (832) 345-6289 Monday­–Friday 9am–6pm and Saturday 10am–2pm.

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