As the weekly $600 unemployment benefit ends, other sources of help remain

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- On Friday, the extra federal funding ends for millions of Americans on unemployment, but there is other assistance available.

Since April, the CARES Act has provided unemployed Americans an extra $600 a week. Federal lawmakers are debating extending the benefit, but no deal has been made.

Unemployment benefits in Texas won't end, but they will drop substantially. The average Texan will go from receiving $1,900 every two weeks to $700.

There's still a chance the benefit could return, but it would need Congressional approval. Lawmakers continue to talk options, including cutting benefits to $200, to extending the weekly $600 until next year, but no vote can take place until next week.

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The first payment when Texans will see a reduction will be next week. Texas Workforce Commission officials stress people shouldn't call or tie up paperwork asking why their funds were reduced because the decision to return the extra money is a national one.

"Filing an appeal for this reason would not make a difference and could potentially delay situations for others that need to file an appeal," Texas Workforce Commission spokesperson Cisco Gamez explained.

Here in Houston there are other options for those looking for help. In terms of rental assistance, the Houston Apartment Association features 25 different groups offering help, including Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, and the United Way.

READ ALSO: Texas says it won't collect overpaid unemployment benefits in cases when it was state's mistake

There's also more help for people needing to buy food. Governor Greg Abbott extended emergency SNAP benefits through August.
Abbott said the Texas Health and Human Services Commission will provide $185 million in emergency SNAP food benefits. By August 15, more than 961,000 SNAP households will see the additional amount on their Lone Star Card.

"By extending this emergency SNAP funding, the State of Texas is helping to ensure families can continue to put food on the table," said Governor Abbott in a news release. "I remain grateful to our partners at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their ongoing support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic."

There are also millions of dollars coming next month to help keep your favorite small business open, and workers in Harris County employed. The county's small business grant program will start awarding grants soon.

County Commissioner Adrian Garcia developed the program. He said it should help 1,500 small business owners.

They had until last Friday to apply, but this week, owners can finalize their applications. The county program will pick owners who qualify at random, and a spokesperson from Garcia's office said they'll be able to award money quickly, which can be upwards of $25,000.

The video above is from a previous report.

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