Since the pandemic – and even before – so many living in the Greater Houston area have struggled to make ends meet to pay for rent, groceries, gas, childcare and other monthly needs for their families. They often feel helpless and stressed because they can’t get ahead.
United Way of Greater Houston is here to offer help. For those who are ready to work on their journey to financial stability, they will find help through the organization’s network of comprehensive services and the personalized support available to them.
Each person who embarks on this journey receives the help of a trained United Way navigator who helps them identify their unique financial goals and connects them with the tools and resources that can help them make progress on those goals. Using a new United Way technology tool, the navigators identify and connect clients with resources and services from across a network of more than 100 nonprofit agencies engaged with United Way in supporting this work.
United Way is deploying navigators because it can be confusing and time-consuming for individuals to work through the complex network of social service offerings and find the ones that are right for them. Navigators make important connections and referrals to services that can help a client advance toward their goals. Navigators also help to address obstacles along the way and assist clients when they need extra help to keep moving forward.
Recently, the mother of a child with a disability enrolled in the program to help her prioritize her goals around the operation of her small business and improving her mental health. The navigator connected her to bundled financial stability services to support her business goals and a wellness clinic to address her mental health needs. Both referrals were part of supporting her efforts to become more financially stable for her daughter’s future and her own.
“We are pleased to have developed this United Way program with navigators for Houston-area residents in need of assistance,” said Amanda McMillian, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Houston. “The program is built on the understanding that people are the experts in their own lives but can benefit from having someone walk alongside them in this journey to financial stability. When given the opportunity and information, they get to make the best choices for their future,” she added.
United Way operates this program across 13 priority regions within Fort Bend, Harris, Montgomery and Waller counties. These regions were identified based on the number of households that are financially struggling, as defined by the United Way ALICE Report (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), and the density of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, a population that has been disproportionately impacted by economic, educational and assistance disparities caused by systemic racism and other barriers.
“Trained navigators are there to remove some of those barriers, no matter how big or small, that can have a huge impact on a family’s financial trajectory,” added McMillian.
Those who reside in the four-county region are eligible to participate in the program at no cost. Once they complete the online form, they will be contacted by a navigator who will share more about the program and gather additional background information to determine their readiness. For those who aren’t quite ready to participate fully in the program, navigators will help connect them to available social service resources or the 211 Texas/United Way HELPLINE to address their immediate needs.
For more information on the program and to submit an online form to get started, visit unitedwayhouston.org/help-seekers or call the 211 Texas/United Way HELPLINE or text START to 50503.