Catholic Charities to administer funds to help 20,000 families to receive $1,500 payments
Application runs July 28 through August 11, 2021
HOUSTON, TX – A new $30 million relief fund opening next week will help families still experiencing the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Harris County Recovery Assistance (HCRA) will accept applications Wednesday, July 28 through Wednesday, August 11. HCRA was created with new aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and is being administered by Catholic Charities. The funding will provide one-time payments of $1,500 to 20,000 Harris County families whose financial situation has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.
The application period will last two weeks, and all qualifying households within Harris County (inside or outside City of Houston) are encouraged to apply at HarrisCountyRelief.org, beginning July 28. To ensure fairness, households will be selected randomly, and all funding will be distributed by late fall. Families can apply on their own without cooperation from a landlord, 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. Families can apply on their own without cooperation from a landlord, since the money can be used for any type of urgent expense (housing, groceries, utilities, healthcare, childcare, transportation, etc.).
“How we respond to the most vulnerable in our community will be the key to our region’s economic recovery,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “Over the past year, millions of families in Harris County have relied on cash infusions – from federal stimulus payments to local relief programs – to stay housed, clothed, and healthy. As other protections expire, these direct payments will serve as a vital bridge to a permanent recovery from this pandemic.” “I am so glad that we are putting our American Rescue Plan Act recovery funds to work quickly, and that we are targeting those most impacted by the pandemic,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis. “Many people fell behind on payments for their basic needs during the pandemic, whether it was rent or childcare, and the Harris County Recovery Assistance program will help those families still struggling to catch up. Our community will not recover unless everyone can recover, so this is an important first step to rebuild and move forward from the pandemic.”
“Some may be emerging from the pandemic, but many families are still struggling to make ends meet,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia. “The additional funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will help keep thousands of our neighbors from having to choose between keeping the lights on or putting food on the table.”
“It’s been a difficult year. While many of us are ready and able to get back on our feet, we can’t forget about those who are still struggling,” said Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey, P.E. “Catholic Charities is known for their management in relief efforts, so I look forward to seeing the success of this program and brighter days for all Harris County residents.”
“Our partnership with Catholic Charities as the administrator of this program is invaluable to provide direct help for Harris County residents struggling with healthcare, housing, and other financial hardships incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle. “We look forward to another seamless program through this joint effort between Harris County and Catholic Charities.”
In addition to Catholic Charities’ case management team, five well-respected community-based nonprofits have been engaged to serve as navigators, in order to help families with the application process who might not otherwise apply, due to technological or language barriers. The agencies include Hope Disaster Recovery, Humble Area Assistance Ministries (HAAM), East Harris County Empowerment Council, Memorial Assistance Ministries (MAM), and YMCA of Greater Houston. Navigators’ locations and contact information are listed at HarrisCountyRelief.org.
To qualify for the program, 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. Examples of acceptable documentation are available at HarrisCountyRelief.org.
FAQs, the application (available on July 28), and information on navigator agencies that can help people apply are at HarrisCountyRelief.org. Also beginning July 28, people may call 832-345-6289 Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.