Secretary Ben Carson visits Houston area to assess need for assistance during pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a toll on the country.

More than 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since May, according to Columbia University researchers.

This means more people are in need of housing or other assistance.

Since COVID-19, things haven't gotten any easier for Johnny Salce.

"Right now, they have cut down on my hours at work," said Salce.

So to ensure he has groceries, he's getting some help from the Humble Area Assistance Ministries or HAAM. The organization helps with everything from food, electric bills, rental assistance and more.

"It means a lot. It helps me a lot," said Salce.

HAAM said the need has gone up 50%.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was in town on Thursday with Congressman Dan Crenshaw, and together they toured HAAM.

HAAM has received money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or better known as the CARES Act.

"The need is so much higher right now and has affected so many new clients that we've never had before," said executive director of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries Millie Garrison.

With the need high across the nation, the visit comes as Congress continues to works to pass another stimulus bill. That bill could help with rental assistance and other needs.

"The CARES Act was able to step in and bridge the gap, and they've done that a couple of times," said Carson. "I think we're going to need to do it again, because you have to keep the boat afloat."

Carson said with the need, the spending is necessary.

"Yes, are we increasing the national debt? Absolutely. But the national debt will be irrelevant if the whole thing falls apart," said Carson.

We also talked to Rep. Crenshaw and his opponent for his Texas District 2 seat, Sima Ladjevardian, on what's holding up a second stimulus. In the video below, they spar over the coronavirus relief bill that may or may not be passed before the election.

EMBED More News Videos

U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw and his opponent for his 2nd district seat, Sima Ladjevardian, give their take on why a second COVID-19 stimulus bill has yet to make it out of Congress.



Follow Marla Carter on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.