ABOVE: 2020 Commissioners Court Empty Chairs
Last Tuesday, May 19th, Harris County Commissioners Court voted to provide economic relief for up to 25,000 Harris County families who are suffering because of the pandemic.
Proposed by Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis, the $30 million COVID-19 Relief Fund will help our most vulnerable residents pay for rent, food, medical care, child care and other basic needs.
The Harris County COVID-19 Relief Fund (HCCRF), which is slated to be distributed equitably throughout the county, will provide $1,200 for households of one to four residents, and $1,500 for households of five-plus people. It is expected that between 20,000 and 25,000 households will benefit from the fund.
“The Coronavirus pandemic has created both a health and a financial crisis in our region,” said Commissioner Ellis. “Our communities are hurting. And it is our duty as public servants to make sure that our most vulnerable residents, who were already living paycheck to paycheck, do not lose everything in the midst of this crisis.”
Three weeks ago, Harris County Commissioners Court voted to tentatively approve $15 million for the fund. As the public health crisis continued, the need for relief grew. By increasing the fund to $30 million, proponents argued that this will double the reach and help more people, especially those who are now unemployed, ill or caring for someone who is sick.
“Not all job losses are equal,” said Commissioner Ellis. “Our food service, health care and retail workers – the backbone of our workforce, who are already struggling to make ends meet – have been hit the hardest. Federal funding helps, but it is not enough. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Equal Impact Payments did not reach all low-income residents. Students and adults with disabilities who are listed as dependents and many households with immigrants are among those who won’t receive a dime.”
This fund will target communities who are struggling the most, which consist of households below 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI), victims of domestic violence, youth aged out of foster care and those in homeless shelters.
The county’s Relief Fund will be managed by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, which already is managing a COVID-19 relief fund. The Greater Houston Community Foundation has the knowledge, capacity, values and community trust to administer the fund. The Greater Houston Community Foundation will ensure that the funds reach all residents by working with nonprofit, community-based organizations that serve vulnerable communities and through an accessible public intake process.