How To Get Help (And Help) In Austin During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Mar 17, 2020

We'll keep this post updated on how people can help and get help in the Austin area during the coronavirus pandemic. Know of something missing from this list? Email Andy@KUT.org.

Food

Get help: The Central Texas Food Bank has a map of locations where you can get hot meals and groceries in Austin. Enter your location to find what's available near you.

Milan, 4, and Myden, 3, select meals from Austin ISD, which is passing out curbside lunches while schools are closed.
Credit Michael Minasi / KUT

Get help: Austin Independent School District is providing meals for children under the age of 19 and their parents or caregivers during the summer. People can pick up meals at more than 15 curbside locations, and buses are also delivering meals to more than 60 locations. More information and pickup locations can be found here.

Get help: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul's food pantry at the Vincentian Family Center is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon at 901 West Braker Lane.

Get help: Capital Metro has been delivering “help-at-home” kits to MetroAccess subscribers and other vulnerable populations. The kits include grocery items from the Central Texas Food Bank and are dropped off at people’s doors. 

Help: The Central Texas Food Bank says a $25 donation provides 100 meals for neighbors in need. You can donate here.

Help: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Diocesan Council of Austin, a charity network, is seeking monetary donations to provide those in need with food and other services.

Help: The Austin Ed Fund is asking for donations to help make sure kids and families in Austin ISD have meals while schools are closed. You can donate online.

Job Loss/Businesses

Get help: Austin City Council members voted in April to distribute $15 million to various nonprofits as part of a relief package for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find out what nonprofits are distributing relief funds and how to apply here.

Get help: The coronavirus outbreak has caused many businesses to shut down and lay off employees. If you were laid off – or even if your hours were just cut back – you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Navigating the system can be challenging, so we've put together this resource.

Get help: Small businesses and nonprofits hurt by the pandemic can apply for emergency loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The loans became available in Texas after the state received a federal disaster declaration over the coronavirus.

Get help: Jobs have also cropped up to help meet needs during this time. Workforce Solutions Capital Area has created a “Jobs Now” page that lists job openings in essential business sectors in Central Texas. More current job postings can be found on the Austin Chamber of Commerce website.

Get help: The nonprofit Southern Smoke is offering charitable assistance to those who’ve lost their jobs in the service industry. The application in English can be found here and in Spanish can be found here

Help: Austin Disaster Relief Network is seeking donations to help families and individuals impacted by the pandemic. The organization aims to provide emergency funds to those who have lost jobs or income due to the coronavirus.

Music Industry

Get help: The Austin Creative Alliance has set up an emergency fund to support local artists during the coronavirus pandemic. The Artists Emergency Relief Fund allows artists to apply for up to $500 to replace lost income due to event or project cancellations. Applications will be reviewed every day on an ongoing basis.

The group says priority will be given to ACA members and people experiencing housing or food insecurity. Artists who receive funding will be asked to make a donation such as artistic work, creative services or volunteer time.

Get help: The Texas Music Office lists other grants for music industry professionals dealing with lost income amid COVID-19 cancellations, such as the American Guild of Musical Artists Relief Fund and Facebook’s COVID-19 Small Business Grants Program.

Get help: The SIMS Foundation is a local group dedicated to providing mental health and substance use recovery services for the Austin music community. For immediate support, call 512-472-HELP (4357) — a 24/7 helpline for those in mental health crisis in Travis County. 

Help: KUT's sister station, KUTX, has an entire guide devoted to helping Austin musicians and the businesses that support them. National organizations like MusicCares and local nonprofits like HAAM can provide a safety net.

Help: For fans looking to support local artists, I Lost My Gig and the Red River Cultural District's Banding Together ATX campaign are just some of your options.

Older Adults

Get help: Several grocery stores, like Whole Foods and Fiesta, are implementing preferential queuing policies to allow older individuals to shop in small numbers before the doors open up to the public. Find out what else stores are doing to help vulnerable populations here.

Get help: H-E-B and Favor Delivery launched a new service called Senior Support Line. Adults over 60 are able to choose from a specially curated list of essentials and can place their orders over the phone by calling 1-833-397-0080, via the Favor app or on Favor’s website. More information can be found here.

Get help:  Family Eldercare has a phone program called Lifetime Connections Without Walls to help people 55 and older deal with social isolation. It provides social and educational sessions and will also have programs on COVID-19.

Get help:  Age of Central Texas has resources on COVID-19 and has made a library of activities and resources online for older adults and caregivers who are quarantined at home. 

Help: Aspire to Age is seeking volunteers for 20-minute virtual and phone check-ins with seniors. 

Help: Aging Services Council of Central Texas lists more services and volunteer opportunities on its website

Health Care

Get help: Those who have endured health insurance loss may be eligible for local health coverage programs such the Medical Access Program (MAP) or MAP-BASIC provided by Central Health. Central Health is available to Travis County residents at 512-978-8130. The MAP applications can be found here in English and Spanish. Federal programs like Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) might also be options. 

Get Help: For those who recently lost their health insurance, Foundation Communities can help you learn if you qualify to enroll in a federally-subsidized Marketplace health insurance plan. You can leave a message at 512-381-4520 or email enroll@foundcom.org to schedule a phone appointment. 

Help: The Austin EMS Association has set up a donation page to help medics affected by the pandemic pay for meals, supplies, pet care or other expenses. All money collected by the Austin EMS Relief Fund will go to medics who have been exposed to COVID-19, are symptomatic, are quarantined or are unable to work because of it.

Help: We Are Blood, Central Texas' blood bank, is collecting convalescent plasma donations from people who have had COVID-19 and recovered from it. The plasma is being used to treat people who currently have the illness. You can see if you are eligible to donate and sign up here

Internet Access

Get help: Grande Communications is offering free internet and WiFi for 60 days to qualifying low-income households through its Internet First Program. The company also says it will not terminate service to any customer who can't pay a bill because of financial hardship caused by the pandemic.

Housing

Get help: The Texas Supreme Court let its ban on eviction proceedings expire in May, but some federal and local requirements are still in place to protect renters from eviction. Read about them here

Get help: Austin Energy has also said it would suspend all shutoffs of utilities due to unpaid bills. For most customers, this includes electricity, water, trash collection and recycling. Read more about this from KUT's Audrey McGlinchy.

Help: Salvation Army of Austin is seeking donations for cleaning supplies. You can make donations by buying available supplies at Salvation Army's Amazon wish list.

Help: Foundation Communities, a local nonprofit that provides affordable housing and support services in Austin and North Texas, is seeking donations for its Emergency Assistance Fund. The fund will help residents who are experiencing health concerns or lost wages to afford rent, utilities, household items, transportation and more. Donate at FoundCom.org.

Animals

Help: Austin Animal Center is open by appointment for adoptions and intake. You can learn how to foster an animal here.

Help: Austin Pets Alive! is also looking for people to foster animals. People can also adopt pets or make monetary or in-kind donations. The organization is looking for supplies like towels, leashes, bleach, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes and more. 

Alyssa Weinstein contributed to this post.

This post has been updated.