FAQ

Learn more here

How can I access these funds? When will funds be available?

The Harris County COVID-19 Relief Fund disbursed funds in two ways. 

Nonprofit Distribution: The Fund has partnered with trusted, high performing, proven community-based organizations (CBOs) with deep relationships and understanding of families with emergency needs. These CBOs are working with eligible individuals and families they are already engaged with to verify eligibility, and provide financial assistance. The distribution of these funds was completed on June 12, 2020.

Public Application: The Fund invited all eligible individuals to complete an application through a multilingual call center and/or website. Individuals were randomly selected and matched with a CBO to serve them and understand their needs, verify eligibility, and provide assistance.

The public application opened on June 23 and 24, 2020, and is now closed.

If you are in need of assistance, we encourage you to call 211 to find out about available resources or visit our resources page.

What happens after I apply?

All applicants received a notification of the status of their application on Tuesday, June 30th. 

Those selected through the randomized process will be matched with a community-based organization. These organizations will reach out to applicants within 5 business days to verify eligibility and assist in the completion of the application process. If the application for financial assistance is approved, the organization will coordinate the delivery of assistance. 

Individuals who were not selected through the randomized process and are still in need of assistance are encouraged to contact 211 Texas/ United Way helpline for information on other available resources.

I missed the application window. Can I still apply for aid?

No. Unfortunately, the public application is now closed. If you are in need of assistance, we encourage you to call 211 Texas/ United Way helpline to find out about available resources or visit our Resources page.

What happens if my application is not selected to move on to the next stage of the process?

Unfortunately, the immense need across Harris County far exceeds the resources available, and so not everyone will move on to the next stage of the process. 

Individuals who were not selected through the randomized process and are still in need of assistance are encouraged to call 211 Texas/ United Way helpline to find out about available resources near them. Individuals can also visit our Resources page.

Can I appeal for aid if my application was not selected to move forward?

No. Unfortunately, there is enormous need across Harris County, and currently, there are no additional funds at this time to help additional community members.

Individuals who were not selected through the randomized process and are still in need of assistance are encouraged to call 211 Texas/ United Way helpline to find out about available resources near them. Individuals can also visit our Resources page.

I applied as early as possible– why wasn’t my application selected?

Applications for aid were not selected on a first-come-first-serve basis. When the application closed on June 24 at 10:00pm, all applications, regardless of how or when they were submitted, were put into a drawing and randomly selected.

Additionally, to reach those most vulnerable in our community, applications from vulnerable census tracts will be prioritized to receive assistance, with those in the most vulnerable areas receiving up to a 50% increased chance of being selected.

How were individuals selected to move on to the next stage of the process?

When the application closed on June 24 at 10:00pm, all applications, regardless of how or when they were submitted, were put into a drawing and randomly selected.

To reach those most vulnerable in our community, applications from vulnerable census tracts were prioritized to receive assistance, with those in the most vulnerable areas receiving up to a 50% increased chance of being selected.

The Center of Disease Control’s Social Vulnerability Index break these vulnerable census tracts into quartiles, with the 3rd and 4th quartiles characterized as more vulnerable:

Harris County residents in Quartile 4, or the most vulnerable census tracts (the census tracts in dark green below), will receive a 50% increased chance in the drawing.

Residents in Quartile 3 (in a medium shade of green) will receive a 25% increased chance in the drawing.

See map below. 

The two darkest shades represent the most vulnerable census tracts as defined by the Center for Disease Control’s Social Vulnerability Index.

Note: The CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index was designed to help local public health and recovery response officials better understand the social and economic conditions of neighborhoods during and after an environmental disaster or public health crisis. The goal is to describe — with one number — how vulnerable residents in a given neighborhood are to the effects of something like a natural disaster and how difficult it will be for them to recover.

How can I check on the status of my application?

By Tuesday, June 30, 2020, all applicants received an email and/or text notification regarding the status of their application. 

What happens after I’ve been selected to move on to the next stage of the process?

Those selected through the randomized process will be matched with a community-based organization. This organization will reach out within 5 business days to continue the application process. Once the application for financial assistance is approved, the organization will coordinate the delivery of assistance.

What do I need to prepare after I’ve been selected to move on to the next stage of the process?

You should be prepared to verify your eligibility with:

  1. Proof of residency in Harris County
  2. Household income documentation OR proof of enrollment in a public assistance program

See below a list of documents you can provide to verify your eligibility. You won’t need to submit these documents until after the application process.

Who is eligible for aid?

The Fund was open to all eligible low-income Harris County residents (regardless of status), including immigrant households, those who may receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance but cannot afford to wait for months, and those ineligible for CARES Act payments or unemployment insurance.

Those eligible MUST:

  1. Live in Harris County

  2. Have a household income below 60% Area Median Income (AMI), OR be accessing public benefits

  3. Have experienced negative economic impact related to the COVID-19 pandemic

  4. Not have received benefits from the following programs in 2020:

    • The City of Houston Rental Assistance Program,

    • the Harris County Utility Assistance Program, or

    • the Harris County COVID-19 Forgivable Loan Program

Can my immigration status disqualify me from aid?

No. The Fund was open to Harris County low-income residents, including those excluded by the CARES Act or immigrant households, and people who may receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance but could not afford to wait for months.

If there are two families within the same household address, are they both eligible for assistance?

Yes. Funding will be allocated by family households. Family households consist of a single individual or two more individuals who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption, or are cohabiting or non-married couples.

Note: if you live with non-family, non-couple roommates with whom you do not share any financial resources or any financial dependencies, you may apply separately.

Do I need to file the financial assistance received on my taxes?

No.

If I’m outside of Harris County, where can I get assistance?

While the Fund was focused on serving those in Harris County, other help may be available in your area. Call 211 to find out about available resources. The 211 Texas/United Way HELPLINE connects our neighbors with help 24/7/365 and is our community’s go-to resources in times of disaster. 211 can connect you with food, child care, transportation, and other social services, critical information, and community resources. If you or someone you know needs help, dial 211.

How is the fund managing data?

The data collected is only being used for the purposes of this program. The community-based organizations working with the applicants will be responsible for collecting and maintaining data and documentation within their own systems. The type of information being collected from individuals is necessary to verify eligibility and is minimally personally identifiable information. Data is held in highly secure, reliable platforms.

How many households have been helped by the fund so far?

The Harris County COVID-19 Relief Fund and its community-based organization partners have assisted thousands of families and households across the county. A table breaking down households served by phase can be found here.