Agencies offer help to those who lost their job amid coronavirus outbreak

Nick Natario Image
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The coronavirus outbreak is impacting jobs, day care, and food, which is why several agencies are stepping up to help.

At one of the Houston-area Workforce Solutions locations, coronavirus was on the minds of people looking for work.

"I'm having a hard time trying to survive," job seeker Daphney Taylor said. "I'm working a part-time job where I'm not making very much in a month."

The outbreak is causing businesses to close, which means people may lose their jobs or wages.

"Since the coronavirus, I feel like everyone is panicking," job seeker Aljenita Cole explained. "I feel like everyone is scared."

The Texas Workforce Commission says if you lose your job because of the outbreak, you might be eligible for unemployment. They will look at past wages, how you lost the job and ongoing eligibility requirements.

"The first thing you want to do is not panic," Workforce Solutions manager Michelle Castrow said. "There are still jobs available. The first thing you want to do if you think you qualify for unemployment assistance, go ahead and apply."

Employees or people looking for jobs aren't the only ones receiving help. President Donald Trump announced Monday he's waiving interest on federal loans.

SEE RELATED LINK: Coronavirus stimulus bill:: President Trump wants to send Americans checks 'in next 2 weeks,' Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says

If you need help paying your mortgage, the Federal Housing Finance Agency says to contact your service because a program to defer payment for six months is an option.

There's also a growing call to help people locally with food and day care, especially with schools closing.

SEE RELATED LINK: Pearland after-school program tries to help working parents during COVID-19 outbreak

ABC 13 learned that a number of agencies took part in a call Monday afternoon with the city and county to talk about ways to help. We know the Houston Food Bank is creating quarantine food kits.

The Salvation Army says it's also going to provide hot meals. The United Way said it's ramping up efforts too, and looking into child care options with schools being canceled.

"Don't give up," Taylor said. "Stay prayerful. Give it all to God."

How to apply online for benefits through Texas Health and Human Services

HHS is encouraging Texans to submit Medicaid, SNAP food benefits, TANF cash assistance and WIC benefit applications online or via the Texas Benefits mobile app during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As Texans, we must all do what we can to get through this pandemic together," said Wayne Salter, HHS Deputy Executive Commissioner for Access & Eligibility Services. "We hope to reduce the number of Texans using office services and ask that if you can conduct your business online to please do so at this time."

Although office locations will remain open, Texans are encouraged to apply for or renew benefits online.

Through the website, users can: create a new account, find their username on existing account, upload files, update phone number and report changes.

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