Harris County Housing and Community Resource Center programs.

Referrals to non-profits and financial aid programs are available from Harris County Housing and Community Resource Center. The agency partners with organizations across the county to help those that are struggling with their bills, with a focus on housing needs. Families can get linkage to resources and learn about options available to them for preventing evictions or a foreclosure.

Although the organization does not provide monetary aid itself to struggling individuals, HCRC connects clients with either government grants or Houston area agencies that offer emergency financial assistance. There are funds available for paying rent and mortgage as well as utilities such as natural gas, electric, phone and water bills. Housing and Community Resource Center notes that most agencies provide financial support to clients once a year at most, for one month worth of expenses.

All support is provided as a last resort. HCRC adds that anyone seeing financial help needs to solicit assistance from multiple agencies or non-profits in order to cover the entirety of their debt. So they need to attend credit counseling, call on Harris County agencies themselves, and take other steps first.

When seeking aid, for proof of need, the agencies will require clients to provide specific documentation, such as final notice of a utility or phone bill, an eviction notice, payroll stub if applicable, Social Security cards of all household members, photo identification, and Social Security disability verification letter if applicable. Individuals should check with individual agencies regarding any other needed documentation as each organization and program administered has different requirements.

As one example, Gulf Coast Community Services Association (GCCSA) is a key partner of HCRC. Contingent upon funding, GCCSA offers financial assistance or a non-interest loan for paying back rent and mortgage payments that are due, clothing, housing counseling, mediation for landlord-tenant disputes, and free food for low- and moderate-income families. This agency can be reached by phone at (713) 393-4700.

Staff from Harris County Housing and Community Resource Center help clients find low cost, safe rental housing to live in. The organization has an online database that allows families to search for available affordable housing at any time. If anyone needs help searching the database, they can call (877) 428-8844 to speak with operators who have been trained to provide hands on assistance for this process.




Basic needs can be met by another partner, Cathedral Health and Outreach Ministries. This organization supports homeless individuals throughout the region. CHOM provides case management services and operates a day center that offers hot meals, free clothing, laundry services, immunizations and other essential needs.

The agency features a transitional residence service designed for homeless women who have been released from the Texas jail or prison system, and there is also help for single parents. Free legal services and representation are available to impoverished and homeless individuals, and CHOM also manages a community health clinic to provide medical and mental health services to homeless children, men, and women.

Sheltering Arms Senior Services administers the CEAP - Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program. This federally and state of Texas funded program helps low-income families with children, disabled individuals, as well as senior citizens who are 60 years of age and older pay gas and electricity bills. Recipients of financial assistance or a cash grant through CEAP must satisfy minimum income standards established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and dial (713) 956-7456.

In addition, Housing and Community Resource Center refers clients to Sheltering Arms Senior Services, and the agency provides weatherization services to low-income households in Harris County to help them save money on energy bills by making their homes more efficient. These free weatherization services include insulation, caulking and installation of weather stripping. The agency gives preference to any conservation measures to elderly and/or physically handicapped individuals. For further information, call (713) 685-6513.

Family Services offers low interest car loans through its Ways to Work program. This is intended to help income-eligible individuals secure transportation for employment purposes, and customers are offered a loan at very low interest rates. Telephone - (713) 861-4849 to make an appointment.





Individuals who are 65 years of age or older may qualify for tax exemptions and advice on filing as well. Moreover, seniors from Harris County Texas can receive a $10,000 exemption from school districts, and details can be obtained by dialing Harris County Appraisal District at (713) 957-7800.

Property tax deferrals and other forms of assistance are available for people reaching the age of 65. Under a tax deferral, the owners real estate taxes accrue, with interest applied. HCRC advises homeowners to contact the tax office for the jurisdiction in which their home is located to verify how much of their property taxes can be legally deferred, and also note that the taxes and interest must be paid when homeowners die, move or sell their property. The organization cautions that if a home has a mortgage on their home, then the deed of trust for that loan may allow the lender to foreclose if all taxes are not paid in a timely manner.

HCRC also has other support services, information, and guidance. The organization is located at 1212 Prairie Street, Houston, Texas 77002 and can be reached by phone at (713) 220-9737. Staff can direct callers to the proper resource for their needs.



By Jon McNamara

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