COVID-19 is affecting many people, but just how much damage is COVID-19 is doing to the workforce?
According to the Texas Workforce Commission Texas’s unemployment rate is 13% as of June 2020 compared to 3% in May of 2019.
Some people might be under the impression they aren’t eligible for public benefits since they still have a home or someone in their family is employed. But that’s not true. Many individuals and families are employed, but are still unable to make ends meet. United Way categorizes this population as ALICE. Who/what is ALICE?
ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, and represents families that are working, but are unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care, and transportation.
ALICE households are working households; they hold jobs, pay taxes, and provide services that are vital to the Texas economy. ALICE workers primarily hold jobs in occupations that build and repair our infrastructure and educate and care for the workforce. ALICE is your child care worker, your parent on Social Security, a recent graduate who can’t find work in their field, the cashier at your supermarket, the salesperson at your big box store, a home health aide, an office clerk, administrative assistants.
Many people are under the impression that if someone is not below the poverty line they should be able to make ends meet. Is this accurate?
The Federal Poverty Level for a family of four is $24,300, while in Harris County, that family needs $61,404 just to survive, according to the ALICE Survival Budget.
What kind of resources might be available for someone in the ALICE population?
- 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE is a resource and the number to call for help with social services and basic needs
- Eviction concerns and renters rights: Lone Star Legal Aid
- Your Texas Benefits – We are a partner agency and can apply on behalf of clients
- SNAP Benefits (Food): Family of 4 can bring in up to $3,541 per month to qualify
- P-EBT – (Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer) A one-time payment for each child who previously received free or reduced-price meals at school
- United Way THRIVE is a collaborative network that gives families tools, resources and support to help them achieve financial stability by increasing income, building savings, and acquiring assets.
- The Montrose Center – LGBTQ assistance
One of the biggest financial struggles someone might be facing is how to afford healthcare. What are some resources people might be able to utilize?
- Gold Card (Health Insurance) – The Gold Card is healthcare financial assistance for low-income Harris County residents. Its eligibility requirements are less stringent than Medicaid and the application process is much easier. Although patients with Gold Cards receive fewer benefits than those with traditional health insurance plans, the Gold Card still makes medications and clinic visits more affordable. You need to apply through Harris Health.
- The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) offers low-cost health coverage for children from birth through age 18. CHIP is designed for families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford to buy private health coverage. Apply through Your Texas Benefits.
- Medicaid – Medicaid in the United States is a federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources. Apply through Your Texas Benefits.
The president recently signed additional executive orders related to COVID assistance. What are they? As things are consistently changing please visit the Governor and President’s pages for the most up-to-date information.
- All interest on student loans held by the federal government through the end of 2020 is waived and allows people to delay payments until December 31
- Those on unemployment had been receiving an extra $600 a week from the federal government on top of their state aid, but Congress set the federal funding to expire at the end of July. Federal aid is set to restart at a level of $400 a week. But states have to pay some of that and many states are currently cash-strapped as they fight the Coronavirus so there’s concern governors won’t sign on to do this.
If you have any questions or need help finding resources to help you or your family you can schedule an appointment with a Family Houston financial coach or case manager by calling 713-861-4849.