Harris County’s $30 million COVID-19 Relief Fund will be open for applications from the public on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Roughly 30,000 households will receive benefits through the fund. Depending on household size, most recipients will get between $1,200 and $1,500 in one-time assistance under the program.
County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who proposed the relief fund, said it aims to serve those in greatest need, rather than a first-come, first-served basis.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure we don’t discriminate against any residents, including those that were excluded by the CARES Act, such as our immigrant households, adults listed as dependents, and people who may receive pandemic unemployment assistance but can’t afford to wait for months to get the support,” Ellis said.
Applicants must be Harris County residents in order to qualify. That includes city of Houston residents.
In addition, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- They must be eligible for and receiving services from one of a long list of public benefits programs or be under 60 percent of the area median income.
- They must have been economically impacted by COVID-19.
- They must not have received funding from a city or county COVID-19 financial assistance program in the past.
“We can nowhere meet the overall demand with this $30 million,” Ellis admitted, noting that more than 277,000 Harris County residents have applied for unemployment insurance since March. “Is this going to solve the problem? No. Is it going to put a dent in it? Yes. Are we going to keep trying to do more? Yes.”
People can apply online at harriscountyrelief.org from 6-10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. They can also apply by phone by calling 832-848-0214 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday or 2-10 p.m. on Wednesday. Multilingual operators will be available, with languages including English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Vietnamese, and Tagalog.
The county plans to distribute the money by July 31.
This will be the second phase roll out of the fund. During the first phase, roughly $15 million in relief funds were disbursed to 44 local, community-based organizations. Those organizations provide vulnerable individuals and families with support for food, housing, electricity, childcare, and other essentials. Individuals seeking to access help through one of these organizations can call the Texas United Way Helpline at 211.