Harris County relief program with $1,500 payments to families opens 2-week application window

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Wednesday, July 28, 2021
You can apply for $1,500 in COVID relief money next week
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Families living in Harris County can soon apply for more help to pay emergency expenses. Here's what to know.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A new $30 million relief fund is opening up today to help Harris County families still struggling due to the pandemic, and that includes a $1,500 payment for qualifying families.

The Harris County Recovery Assistance program (HCRA) is taking applications through Wednesday, Aug. 11.

This will help give one-time payments of $1,500 to 20,000 Harris County families in need. The application period will last two weeks and those who qualify are encouraged to apply at HarrisCountyRelief.org.

To keep it fair, the county said households will be selected randomly and the payments will be distributed by late fall.

Families can apply on their own without the cooperation from a landlord, since the money can be used for any type of urgent expense, including housing, groceries, utilities, healthcare, childcare and transportation.

"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."

How do I apply?

  • You must apply through HarrisCountyRelief.org. You can also call (832) 345-6289 if you have any questions when the call center opens on July 28.
  • It'll be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

What are the eligibility requirements?

  • The households must be within Harris County (inside or outside city of Houston limits.)
  • You must be 18 or older or be an emancipated minor.
  • You also must prove that you've experienced economic hardship during the pandemic.
  • Households must have at least one member enrolled in a public assistance program or a total household income at or below 60% of the HUD area median family income. That's $33,300 for one person and $47,520 for a family of four.
  • Only one payment will be made per family. If housing is shared by more than one family, each family may apply.
  • As required by federal guidelines, at least one adult member of the household must be a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, refugee, or other qualified noncitizen.

How are applications selected?

  • The program prioritizes applicants in the lowest income bracket so it doesn't work on a first-come, first-serve basis. That means applications are randomly selected for processing.
  • The county said being selected is not a guarantee that you'll get a payment. Once you're selected, applications are reviewed to confirm eligibility and other compliance requirements.

Where is this money coming from?

  • HCRA was created with new aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).