HARConnect

HAR Member Resource: Help for Individuals & Families

Dynamic List of Available Resources for HAR Members Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic (Updated Aug. 6, 2020 at 12:24 p.m.)

Houston City Cancel has approved a $20 Million Rent Relief Program to help Houstonians who cannot pay rent because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. As we enter the fifth month of the pandemic, many are still without jobs and facing eviction or homelessness. The Mayor is trying to provide some relief for those families. This second package from the city includes $15 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act) and $5 million from private donors, including: $2 million from the Houston Endowment, $1 million from the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund, $1 million from the Kinder Foundation, and $1 million from Texans owner and co-founder Janice McNair. This new program will not be on a first come first serve basis like the last, it will be based on need. The mayor is also asking landlords to waive late fees and interest on late payments, agree to a payment plan, and refrain from evictions through September 2020.  

Criteria to qualify for the rental relief program:  

  • Must live in the City of Houston and be behind on rent payments for August or prior months and cannot pay the rent due to economic challenges caused by COVID-19 
  • Event if only one tenant in an apartment complex qualifies for rental assistance, the no eviction rule applies to all tenants on the property 

For more information and to apply, please visit www.HoustonRentAssistance.org.  

On July 20, Fort Bend County opened Phase 2 of their Rental, Mortgage, & Utility Assistance Program. If you are approved for Phase 1, you are encouraged to apply again. Phase 3 will open sometime in late September. You can apply for Phase 2  HERE.   

UPDATE: The Harris County COVID-19 Relief Fund has exhausted all funds and the program is no longer taking applications. The Harris Country COVID-19 Relief Fund application is now open to the public. You can apply online at https://www.harriscountyrelief.org/. You can also apply by calling 832-848-0214. The application is open until 10 p.m. 6/24/2020. The application will take about 10 minutes to complete. 

In order to qualify for assistance, recipients must:
• Be eligible for and receiving services from a long list of public benefits programs OR be under 60% of area median income,
• Be a resident of Harris County,
• Have been economically impacted by COVID-19,
• Not have received funding from a City or County COVID-19 financial assistance program.  

On Tuesday, April 29, 2020, the Harris County Commissioners Court took first steps in creating a Harris County COVID-19 Relief Fund in order to help the most vulnerable in the community. The $15 million COVID-19 Relief Fund was approved by the Commissioners Court and will provide support for rent, food, medical care, childcare, and other expenses if approved by the Harris County Attorney’s Office. The CARES Act’s strict and exclusionary guidelines leaves out many who are most at need. This relief fund will follow the distribution model created for the Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund and will be managed by the Greater Houston Community Foundation. UPDATES WILL BE PROVIDED AS WE LEARN MORE.  

Harris County Property Tax
Note: A three-month extension of all 12-month delinquent property tax payments has been given as a result COVID 19.
P.O. Box 4622
Houston, TX 77210-4622
713-274-2273

IRS Tax Deadline
The IRS has extended the 2020 Tax Deadline to July 15 instead of April 15. It has also started a People First Initiative in response to COVID-19. Stay up to date on the latest updates and resources from the IRS HERE.  

Economic Impact Payments
Qualifying individuals and families will receive Economic Impact Payments as part of the COVID-19 Stimulus package. For most people, these payments will be sent automatically. You can find more information on what that means for individuals HERE.  

If you did not file taxes last year, but are eligible to receive an Economic Impact Payment, visit HERE.

Not only is the IRS helping non-filers receive payments, they are also developing a second tool called Get My Payment, which will be available by April 17, 2020. This tool will allow users to know when to expect their payment and will also give them the ability to update any banking information in order to receive a direct deposit versus a paper check. More information on the IRS press release can be found HERE.  

As a result of COVID-19, a three-month extension of all 12-month delinquent property tax payments has been given by Harris County. Extensions of vehicle registration have also been given. You can find more information on the Harris County Tax website: https://www.hctax.net/Weather/2020Covid19.  

The Houston Food Bank 
If you need food assistance, the Houston Food Bank is available to help all over the city and surrounding areas. Visit their website for help with finding a Food Bank partner near you, finding breakfast and lunch meal assistance from local schools, and applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  

  • Call the Houston Food Bank helpline at 832-369-9390 
  • Text FOOD to 855-308-2282 to find the nearest food pantry in the area. 

With help from community donations, Second Servings has started the “Dinner’s On Us” Relief Program and is now available to all Houstonians. Visit HERE for more information. 

Harris County Public Libraries are offering free drive-up Wifi in their parking lots. 

LEARN MORE

Baker Ripley House works hard to make neighborhoods and communities strong through community services. All Baker Ripley locations are closed, but here is a list of resources available to families and the community. 

Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) have taken initial action to provide tenant-based rental assistance for Texans experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.  

HUD, the Trump administration, and the President’s Coronavirus Task Force have issued an Eviction and Foreclosure Moratorium through April 30.

More information from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) concerning housing and COVID-19 can be found on their website.  

The Texas Apartment Association has issued an FAQ on paying rent during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

The United Way is working closely with 211 to provide services to Houston area residents.
Services include: 

  • Basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, rent and utility assistance;
  • physical and mental health services including support groups, counseling, and rehabilitation; 
  • financial assistance for job training;
  • programs for seniors such as home-delivered meals, respite care, and home health care;
  • and child care, after school programs, mentoring, tutoring, and protective services.

Call 211 for help or visit the United Way website.  

The CARES Act also provides federal student loan relief. The U.S. Department of Education office of Federal Student Aid is monitoring the Coronavirus situation and has suspended the payments of federal student loans. Payments for federal student loans will automatically stop from March 13, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2020. Check with your lender for all student loans you may have, especially those from private lenders. 

https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus

NAR is providing two free months of access to Members TeleHealth. You will need your NRDS ID to sign up for the service. This is a great way of seeing your doctor without putting yourself or others at risk of contracting Coronavirus.  

The City of Houston is working closely with The Collaborative for Children to help provide childcare for essential workers. More information is available HERE

Stay healthy, fit, and connect with Virtual YMCA. This includes classes, on demand workouts, and educational resources. 

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