The following is a summary of federal, state, and local government programs adopted in response to COVID-19 that are providing direct financial relief to Texas residents impacted by pandemic.
If you know of any updates that should added to this list, please email CommunityAssistanceProject@law.utexas.edu.
Here is information on eligibility for different federal assistance programs based on immigration status.
Here is an overview of different state rental assistance programs for residents impacted by the pandemic.
Economic Impact Payments: Direct Financial Assistance to Eligible Taxpayers
Under the CARES Act, the IRS is providing direct cash assistance to financially-eligible taxpayers, with most payments expected to be made in April.
Here is a handy flowchart in English and Spanish to track the eligibility requirements for these payments. And here is a guide on how tohelp persons experiencing homelessness access their economic impact payments.
- Income-eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment. Individuals with incomes up to $75,000 (individuals) and $150,000 (married couples filing joint returns) will receive $1,200 along with an additional $500 for each child age 16 or younger (if claimed as a dependent on tax return). Direct payments are phased out for individuals making more than $75,000. Here’s a tool where you can calculate how much you might receive.
- Social Security and VA benefit recipients will automatically receive an economic impact payment deposited in their bank account, through Direct Express debit card or by paper check. They do not need to take any action, unless they have dependents under the age of 17. If they have qualifying children under age 17 and did not file a 2018 or 2019 tax return, they should go to IRS.gov and click on the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” button to enter basic information that will help them receive the $500 economic impact payment for each qualifying child.
- Eligible U.S. citizens and permanent residents who did not file a tax return in either 2018 or 2019 (and also do not receive social security or VA benefits) should enter their basic information through the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” button if they: (1) had gross income of $12,200 or less ($24,400 for married couples) for 2019; or (2) were not otherwise required to file a federal income tax return for 2019. The IRS will use this information to determine eligibility and payment amount and send the Economic Impact Payment. No additional action should be needed after providing this information.
- Persons who do not qualify for the Non-Filers option need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment. Free tax filing preparation is available in many Texas cities.
- Austin: Foundation Communities Prosper Centers
- San Antonio: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
- El Paso: United Way of El Paso
- Dallas: United Way of Metropolitan Dallas , Foundation Communities Dallas
- Fort Worth: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
- Houston: University of Houston Downtown VITA Program is offering assistance by phone and online by appointment.
- Lubbock: Coalition of Community Assistance Volunteers
- See also: https://www.myfreetaxes.com/
- IRS.gov/coronavirus provide instructions to persons in these groups on how to file a 2019 tax return with simple, but necessary, information including their filing status, number of dependents and direct deposit bank account information.
- For security reasons, the IRS plans to mail a letter about the economic impact payment to the taxpayer’s last known address within 15 days after the payment is paid. The letter will provide information on how the payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the payment. If a taxpayer is unsure they’re receiving a legitimate letter, the IRS urges taxpayers to visit IRS.gov first to protect against scam artists. the IRS will not call, text, email or contact taxypayers on social media asking for personal or bank account information – even related to the economic impact payments. Also, watch out for emails with attachments or links claiming to have special information about economic impact payments or refunds.
Here is more information on the Economic Impact Payment from the IRS.Gov Page. Check the IRS website for the latest information.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN TEXAS
June 4: The Austin City Council allocated an additional $30.7 million in assistance to help residents impacted by COVID-19 with rental assistance and other basic needs. $18.7 million of these funds is directed solely for rent assistance. The remaining funds are for the City’s RISE Fund, which disburses money to social service agencies to help residents with rent, food and other emergency relief. The bulk of these funds is from the City’s allocation of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds.
April 9: the Austin City Council allocated $15 million for the City’s RISE fund, with funding disbursed to social service agencies to help residents with rent, food, and other emergency relief. The fund is being administered by the following agencies:
- Austin Area Urban League: 512-838-3442 (English); 512-990-1598 (Spanish)
- El Buen Samaritano: 512-439-8902 (bilingual) or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Catholic Charities
- Asian Family Support Services
HACA rental assistance program: The City of Austin allocated $1.5 million in funding to the Housing Authority of the City of Austin for a rental assistance program which opened on May 4th and closed on May 6th. The assistance will serve around 1,000 households. The City received 10,738 applications for the assistance, from which 5,500 were deemed eligible for the assistance.
April 21st: The Bexar County Commissioners Court allocated $4 million for a rental assistance fund called the Temporary Rental Assistance Measure (“TRAM”). The program will offer 1-3 months of rental assistance for households earning 100% AMI or less in Bexar County who do not reside in San Antonio and who can provide proof of unemployment (i.e., furlough, layoff or termination) or a material reduction of income due to COVID-19.
April 22nd: The Dallas City Council allocated $13.7 million in federal funding for rental and mortgage assistance for approximately 1,000 households impacted by COVID-19. The funding, which will be administered through four different programs, comes primarily from the federal HOME, CDBG, ESG, and HOWPA programs. The program received more than 16,000 applications on the first day it opened to the public.
El Paso County
June 1: El Paso County launched a $1 million rent relief program for tenants impacted by COVID-19. As of June 18, only $4550 in relief funds had been awarded to affected tenants.
May 19th: The Harris County Commissioners Court approved an additional $15 million for its COVID-19 relief fund, bringing the funding levels up to $30 million. The fund will provide $1,200-1,500 for eligible families and is estimated to help at least 20,000 households.
Apr 28th: The Harris County Commissioners Court authorized the creation of a $15 million COVID-19 relief fund to assist residents with rent, food, medical care and other expenses. The details and timing of the program have not been unveiled. The funds were allocated from the County’s reserves. The Greater Houston Community Foundation and United Way are managing the fund.
May 6th: The City of Houston City Council allocated $15 million in funding for rental assistance from its federal Coronavirus Relief Funds. The funds ran out within two hours of the application process opening. The City has also committed $8 million in federal HOME funds for rental assistance.
May 2nd: The City of Killeen has created a utility and rent assistance program for low-income residents impacted by COVID-19. The program is funded with $614,000 CDBG-COVID funding, along with reprogramming of prior CDBG allocations. Applications open May 4th.
June 4th: The City of San Antonio approved a COVID-19 Resiliency and Recovery Plan with an additional $50.5 million for housing security including the following:
- $28 million for rental and mortgage assistance
- $1.5 million for case management
- $9.2 million towards homeless shelter options (the city will lease 310 hotels and serve 500 homeless)
- $3.3 million towards domestic violence prevention
- $500,000 for outreach and community engagement
- $120,000 to connect residents with low cost products (bank accounts and loans)
- $4 million to provide financial counseling services
- $4 million for the Family Initiative Up together program (provides support while seeking to increase long-term income)
The vast majority of the funding ($43.4m) is from the city’s allocation of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds, with the other funding ($7m) coming from other federal block grants.
Apr 23rd: The San Antonio City Council approved a $25 million COVID-19 Housing Assistance Fund (a re-branding of the city’s Risk Mitigation Fund but with a lot more money in it). A big chunk of this money is reallocated affordable housing funds, but close to $10 million is from the city’s general funds, tax increment financing funds, parking fund and other non-housing pots of money. It looks like the fund will be used for direct cash assistance payments to families (to cover a range of needs) as well as housing assistance. The city expects to help 15,000-20,000 families with these funds. Last week alone 5,300 persons called the city for assistance, and the city has already approved funding for 1,400 applicants, so the funds will probably run out quickly. Here is a link to the fund.
May 12th: The Travis County Commissioners Court approved $10 million for rent, mortgage, and utility assistance for Travis County residents living outside the Austin city limits. The $10 million is funded from the County’s $61 million Coronavirus Relief Fund allocation. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis through the County’s Health and Human Services website.