COVID-19 pandemic has changed our way of searching for employment and conducting business. On one side, it has shown how most occupations are crucial. In this regard, many have benefited from attaining higher wages, securing health benefits, and finding opportunities for a better work-life balance. On the flip side, the pandemic has prolonged unemployment, which unfortunately affects our ability to meet basic needs. Whether experiencing housing, employment instability, or both, the following resources can alleviate some hardships.
Houston Food Bank (HFB)
As the largest food bank in America, the Houston Food Bank (HFB) serves 18 Southeast Texas counties supplying roughly 1.1 million citizens with nutritious food. With 1,500 community partners, including sites like food pantries, multi-service centers, schools, and programs for children and seniors, HFB wants to ensure our communities can access its services. Also, HFB has re-established a mask mandate for all staff, volunteers, and visitors. To find a pantry, use the HFB Agency Locator or dial 832-369-9390. They may also supply hygienic products, household items, books, and toys. Moreover, their Community Assistance Program (CAP) can help you apply for state-funded social and health services.
Our City of Houston and Harris County have partnered to provide $159 million in rent and utility assistance. According to Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program, aid is available to renters in Harris County or the City of Houston who:
- Have a household income at or below 80% of HUD Area Median Family Income (HAMFI); approximately $63,350 for a family of four or $50,700 for a family of two AND
- Are experiencing housing instability or are at risk of homelessness; who have past due rent or utility bills (electricity, gas, or water) or who have received an eviction notice AND
- Have experienced financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic: unemployment, reduction in work hours, business closure, or (significant) new costs
To apply, go to Houston-Harris Help or call the hotline at 832-402-7568 Monday through Friday, 9 am to 6 pm, and Saturday, 10 am to 2 pm. The application process will require proof of income, residence, housing instability, utility assistance need, identification, and hardship due to COVID-19.
Shelter and Additional Resources
Coalition for the Homeless is the organization that leads The Way Home network to prevent and end homelessness in Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery Counties. Their Help Card offers a directory of services to support homeless or newly-housed individuals such as clothing, chemical dependency, identification, mental health, and income/job training services. Their Street Guide is a two-page document of shelters like day centers, shelters for youth, men, women, families, and those experiencing domestic violence. Call shelters beforehand to find out about their intake process. United Way of Greater Houston 2-1-1, available 24/7, is another helpful resource in addition to United Way Houston.
We are all vulnerable to hardships, and seeking help only makes us human. No one has to face adversity alone.
Omar Martinez is a Regional Facilitator for Workforce Solutions in the Houston – Galveston Region. Prior to joining the team, Omar served as a resource specialist helping customers get back into the workforce by reviewing current labor market information, job-readiness skills, and community resources. Omar’s continued driving force is to help customers get a job, keep a job, or get a better job by conducting job skills seminars throughout the 13 counties of the Gulf Coast region. He holds a B.S. in Psychology and a Minor in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Houston.