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Austin Created A $15 Million Pandemic Relief Fund. Here's How To Access Some Of That Money.

The McKinney Heights Park in South Austin is blocked off with caution tape.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
The McKinney Heights Park in South Austin, closed during the coronavirus pandemic, is blocked off with caution tape.

Austin City Council members voted earlier this month to distribute $15 million to various nonprofits as part of a relief package for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Money from the Relief in a State of Emergency (RISE) Fund is being sent out in waves: In April, the city distributed at least $5.6 million and more funds will go out next month.

Several organizations started accepting applications for the money this week and are reporting incredible demand. A spokesperson for El Buen Samaritano said that on Monday, the first day it started taking calls from people seeking aid, the nonprofit received 7,000 calls; that equates to about 13 calls per minute.

Below, you can find out if you qualify for funds, how to apply and how much money is available for you and your family.

Catholic Charities of Central Austin - $1.6 million available

Catholic Charities of Central Austin is offering help with paying your rent, mortgage payments, utility bills and/or car payments. If you receive help in May, you can also apply for help with June payments.

Who is eligible?

You must meet all the following requirements:

  • Are a resident of Austin or Travis County.
  • Did not qualify for a federal stimulus check. 
  • Have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; for example, you lost a job or have been furloughed.
  • Currently make less than 200% of the federal poverty level; for a family a four, this means less than $52,400 a year.

How can you apply?

The number to call depends on the first letter of your last name:

  • A-D: 512-910-5768
  • E-K: 512-910-5907
  • L-R: 512-910-7076
  • S-Z: 512-910-7170

You’ll need to submit documents, which can be done electronically, proving you live in Austin-Travis County and that you’ve lost wages because of the pandemic.
What help can you get?

Catholic Charities will pay your rent, mortgage, utility bills and/or car payment. An individual qualifies for up to $1,200, and a family of five or more who is eligible can receive up to $5,000. But you won’t get this money directly; instead, Catholic Charities will pay your landlord, mortgage company, etc.

Asian Family Support Services of Austin - $1 million available

Who is eligible?

You must meet all the following requirements:

  • Are a resident of Austin-Travis County.
  • Did not qualify for a federal stimulus check. 
  • Have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; for example, you lost a job or have been furloughed.
  • Currently make less than 200% of the federal poverty level; for a family a four, this means less than $52,400 a year.

Asian Family Support Services said it will prioritize survivors of family violence for the first 50 households who receive aid.
How can you apply?

You can request an application by emailing RISE@AFSSAustin.org or calling 512-358-6318. You’ll need to submit documents proving identity, address, income and that you’ve lost wages because of the pandemic. Asian Family Support Services said it is working with people who might have trouble getting official documentation proving lost income, like people with informal employment.

What help can you get?

It is helping with rent and mortgage payments, utility bills and car payments. Asian Family Support Services will pay your landlord or mortgage company directly. It is also offering gift cards for people seeking cash. An individual qualifies for up to $1,200, and a family of five or more can receive up to $5,000.

El Buen Samaritano - $500,000 available

Who is eligible?

You must meet all the following requirements:

  • Are a resident of Austin-Travis County.
  • Did not qualify for a federal stimulus check. 
  • Have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; for example, you lost a job or have been furloughed.
  • Currently make less than 200% of the federal poverty level; for a family a four, this means less than $52,400 a year.

How can you apply?

Call 512-714-6917. Because of increased demand, a spokesperson said if you have trouble getting through keep trying.

You’ll need to submit documents, which can be done electronically, proving identity, address, income and that you’ve lost wages because of the pandemic.

What help can you get?

If you qualify, you’ll receive a one-time $400 Visa gift card, which you can pick up in-person from El Buen Samaritano.

Family Independence Initiative - $2 million available

Who is eligible?

You must meet all the following requirements:

  • Are a resident of Austin-Travis County.
  • Did not qualify for a federal stimulus check or makes less than 80% of the median family income in Austin, which is roughly $50,000 a year for an individual and $70,000 for a family of four.
  • Have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; for example, you lost a job or have been furloughed.

How can you apply?

Right now, there’s no open application process. Family Independence Initiative is working with nearly 30 organizations in Austin including Workers Defense Project, Black Women In Business and Communities of Color United for Racial Justice to identify people in need of aid.

What help can you get?

Families identified by these Austin organizations will be able to apply starting May 4 for $2,000 in one-time direct cash assistance.

Austin Area Urban League - $500,000 available

Who is eligible?

You must meet all the following requirements:

  • Are a resident of Austin-Travis County.
  • Did not qualify for a federal stimulus check. 
  • Have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; for example, you lost a job or have been furloughed.

The Austin Area Urban League said it will prioritize funds for people who don't qualify for cash payouts through the federal stimulus bill and people who are ineligible for unemployment benefits

How can you apply?

Give them a call. For English speakers, the number is 512-838-3442; for Spanish speakers, the number is 512-900-1598. You can also apply online.

You'll need to provide proof of identity, such as a photo ID; proof of residency, such as a utility bill, lease or current driver’s license; proof of income, such as a pay stub, Medicaid insurance card or food stamp card; and proof of impact due to COVID-19, such as a separation letter from an employer.

What help can you get?

President and CEO Quincy Dunlap said right now people can get help paying their rent or mortgage, and buying prescription medications. The Austin Area Urban League is not giving out direct cash payments, but will instead pay your landlord or mortgage company directly. Dunlap said the organization is working on using some of the funds to get people access to food.

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