Thought Leadership

Texas - COVID-19 Community Resource Guide

Client Updates

Updated - July 2020

To help address the concerns of individuals in our communities affected by COVID-19, Baker Botts has published an extensive COVID-19 Community Resource Guide.

The page below specifically pertains to Texas. To see all of the jurisdictions covered, please click here

This Guide provides general information only that may or may not be applicable in individual circumstances.  It is not intended as legal advice. For legal advice in specific circumstances, please consult your own lawyer. This material may constitute attorney advertising in some jurisdictions.

Topics include:

COURT PROCEEDINGS

Are the Texas federal courts open?

The courts of the Northern District are open, but visitors must wear a mask or face covering that completely covers their nose and mouth while inside any courthouse in the Northern District. Additionally, visitors are expected to practice social distancing while inside the courthouse. For more information, visit the Northern District’s website at http://www.txnd.uscourts.gov/. Recent orders permit the use of video teleconferencing for criminal proceedings; however, you are encouraged to stay up to date on any new or additional orders: http://www.txnd.uscourts.gov/special-order-13-court-orders-and-updates-during-covid-19-pandemic

The courts of the Eastern District are open, but with reduced staff. Additionally, pro se parties are encouraged to file pleadings via U.S. Mail, email, or fax during this time to limit exposure to court staff and others through 11:59 p.m. on August 31, 2020: http://www.txed.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/goFiles/General%20Order%2020-13_signed.pdf.  For additional information on the Eastern District, visit http://www.txed.uscourts.gov/

The courts of the Western District are open, but access is restricted pursuant to order of the court. On July 2, 2020, the Western District issued an order that automatically continues all civil and criminal bench and jury trials that were scheduled to begin on any date through August 31, 2020: 
https://www.txwd.uscourts.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/SupplementOrderRegardingCourtOperationsUnderTheExigentCircumstancesCreatedByTheCovid19Pandemic.pdf. Additional guidance regarding the Western District is available at https://www.txwd.uscourts.gov/ or https://www.txwd.uscourts.gov/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance/

Courts of the Southern District are generally closed. Courts continue to issue short-term notices of closure; thus, it is imperative to check court orders and notices of closure frequently at https://www.txs.uscourts.gov/page/covid-19-general-and-special-orders. For additional information regarding the Southern District, visit https://www.txs.uscourts.gov/

Additionally, most clerks’ offices are open with minimal personnel for processing mail and intake needs.  Electronic filing through the CM/ECF system remains available. 

Are trial settings going forward?

Many courts have continued civil and criminal bench and jury trials; however, some have authorized video and audio conferencing for certain criminal proceedings. It is important to check the status of each court as well as confirm and consult the presiding judge’s orders. Individual judges may continue to conduct bench trials during this time, being mindful to minimize the number of people present in the courtroom. 

What about other matters?

Other deadlines and scheduled appearances generally remain in place, although telephonic or video hearings are encouraged where possible.  You should contact the court or case manager for more information. 

Are there any physical restrictions in place for federal courthouses?

For the time being, entry to most federal courthouses in Texas is prohibited for the following:

  • Persons who have traveled within the last 14 days to any of the countries listed in the CDC’s Level 3 Travel Health Notice on COVID-19, which is available at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/warning/coronavirus-global;
  • Persons who reside or have had close contact with someone who has traveled to one of those countries within the last 14 days;
  • Persons who have been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital, or health agency;
  • Persons who have been diagnosed with, or have had contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with, COVID-19; and
  • Persons with fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

If you have a scheduled hearing or appearance and any of these categories apply to you, you should inform the court or case manager to reschedule or make other arrangements as appropriate. 

Resources:

A collection of Federal District Court updates can be found at https://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/court-website-links/court-orders-and-updates-during-covid19-pandemic

PROCEEDINGS IN TEXAS STATE COURTS

How have court proceedings in Texas state courts been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

On June 26, 2020, Governor Abbott renewed the state of disaster for Texas that was initially released on March 13, 2020: https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-takes-executive-action-to-contain-spread-of-covid-19-2

Following this declaration, the Texas Supreme Court issued its eighteenth emergency order on June 29, 2020. This order generally limits the operations of the courts in Texas, extending certain deadlines in many cases and implementing safety protocols. The order is available at https://www.txcourts.gov/supreme/administrative-orders/2020/

As a general rule, for any civil or criminal case, courts in the State of Texas may allow or require anyone involved in a hearing, deposition, or other proceeding of any kind to participate remotely, such as by teleconferencing or videoconferencing. The courts must avoid risk to court staff, parties, attorneys, jurors, and the public. 

Courts also can conduct proceedings away from the courthouse, with reasonable notice to those involved. These measures will remain in place until August 31, 2020, unless extended by order of the Texas Supreme Court. 

Have deadlines and statutes of limitations been stayed or tolled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

The Texas Supreme Court has ordered that “[a]ny deadline for the filing or service of any civil case that falls on a day between March 13, 2020, and August 1, 2020, is extended until September 15, 2020.” This does not include deadlines for perfecting appeals or for other appellate proceedings.  However, the Court has ordered that requests to extend such deadlines “should be generously granted.” 

The Texas Supreme Court has also given the state’s lower courts the power to “modify or suspend any deadlines and procedures, whether prescribed by statute, rule, or order, for a stated period ending no later than September 30, 2020.” https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1448109/209080.pdf.   

For the current orders still in effect, please visit https://www.txcourts.net/emergency-orders. These orders provide for extended deadlines for attorney professional disciplinary and disability proceedings, which have been tolled until August 15, 2020. Additionally, the stay on eviction proceedings is no longer in place; however, housing subject to the federal moratorium under Section 4024 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act may be protected until July 25, 2020. See Emergency Order 15 at https://81db691e-8a8c-4e25-add9-60f4845e34f7.filesusr.com/ugd/64fb99_94a4b7a899094411811f5cdffd8aab25.pdf.  

Do these restrictions, limitations, and alterations apply in family court proceedings?

Generally, yes.  Where relevant, the orders issued by the Texas Supreme Court that are referenced above apply in family court proceedings in the State of Texas. 

The Texas Supreme Court has also issued the following specific orders related to family law matters and the impact of school closures and shelter-in-place directives resulting from COVID-19:

  • The Court has made clear that, for purposes of determining a person’s right to possession of and access to a child under a court-ordered possession schedule, the existing trial court order shall control in all instances. The original published school schedule shall also control. Possession and access are not affected by COVID-19-related school closures.
  • Similarly, shelter-in-place orders do not impact rights to possession of and access to children. Court-ordered possession schedules still control.
  • With that said, parties can alter possession schedules by agreement based on impacts due to COVID-19 (if they are allowed to do so by their court orders).
  • Similarly, lower courts in the State of Texas still have the power to modify their own orders on possession of and access to children, as appropriate.

See https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1448109/209080.pdf.  

What should I do if I have a court hearing or trial in the near future?

First, check to see if you have received a notice specific to your case regarding the hearing or trial.  These may be available online via the clerk of court’s or court’s website or mailed to you, depending on the court in which your case is pending. 

If you have not received a specific notice, check the court’s website in which your case is pending to see if any COVID-19-related orders have been issued by that court.  Many courts have issued such orders, canceling jury trials and hearings or announcing limited court hours.  

In addition to checking the court’s website for general information, you can contact the court directly, usually by email or phone, to determine whether your trial or hearing will go forward or has been canceled or rescheduled. For most courts, you can find phone numbers and email addresses on the court’s website.  Be sure to have ready your case number when you call or to include it in your email so that the court can locate your case and provide you accurate information.  

Resources:

The Texas Supreme Court orders referenced and quoted above are available at https://www.txcourts.gov/court-coronavirus-information/emergency-orders/. For more information, see https://www.txcourts.gov/court-coronavirus-information/court-guidance/. The Court is continuing to update its page as additional orders and information related to COVID-19 become available. 

A court-by-court summary can be found at https://www.txcourts.gov/programs-services/court-security/emergency-court-preparedness/closures/.  

The website for the court in which your case is pending is also a good resource, as most courts are posting orders and restrictions specific to their court online.

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COVID-19 TESTING POLICIES/PROCEDURES

Texas - Austin

Are drive-through testing sites available in Travis County?

Private healthcare providers locally may provide their own testing. Contact your doctor for more guidance.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you are encouraged to avoid visiting a clinic or hospital and instead use telehealth virtual visits or call your doctor. For a list of services, visit http://austintexas.gov/department/COVID-19-information/if-you-are-sick.

People who are experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms and have no insurance and no established medical provider should call CommUnityCare at (512) 978-8775. 

Texas - Dallas

Are drive-through testing sites available in Dallas County?

Yes.  There are two drive-through testing sites available from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Central Time, Monday to Saturday:

  • University of Dallas at 1845 E. Northgate Drive, Irving, Texas 75062; and
  • Ellis Davis Field House at 9191 South Polk Street, Dallas, Texas 75232. 

Anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of potential COVID-19 infection, including the following may be tested at one of the drive-through sites:

  • Shortness of breath;
  • Cough;
  • Fever;
  • Chills;
  • Muscle pain;
  • New loss of taste or smell;
  • Vomiting or diarrhea; and/or
  • Sore throat.

The following people can also get tested at one of the drive-through sites:

  • Anyone 65-years-old or older;
  • Anyone with chronic health issues (diabetes, asthma, heart issues, etc.);
  • Any first responders, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (“DART”) drivers, healthcare workers, grocery store and essential retail store workers; or
  • Persons without symptoms who have been actively engaged in large group settings within the past 15 days.

For additional information regarding testing in Dallas, please visit https://www.dallascounty.org/covid-19/testing-locations.php.

Texas - Houston

Are drive-through testing sites available in Harris County?

Yes. There are currently multiple drive-through testing sites available in Houston, Texas. All testing sites can be found at: https://txdps.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=8bf7c6a436a64bfe9a5ce25be580e4ff).

  • Any Houstonian, regardless of symptoms, may receive one free COVID-19 test at one of these drive-through testing sites. Individuals must call (832) 393-4220 for an access code and will then receive directions to nearest testing site. Visit https://houstonemergency.org/covid-19-testing/ for more information on testing in Houston.

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EDUCATION/SCHOOL RIGHTS AND RESOURCES

What is the current status of school in Texas?

According to the June 26, 2020 Executive Order GA-28, Texas public schools may resume summer operations as provided by, and under the minimum standard health protocols found in, guidance issued by the Texas Education Agency (“TEA”). Private schools and institutions of higher education were encouraged to adopt similar standards and requirements. Additionally, graduation ceremonies may occur pursuant to the minimum standard health protocols. See https://gov.texas.gov/uploads/files/press/EO-GA-28_targeted_response_to_reopening_COVID-19.pdf.   

For up-to-date support and guidance from the TEA, visit https://tea.texas.gov/texas-schools/health-safety-discipline/covid/coronavirus-covid-19-support-and-guidance.  

My family depends on school-funded meal programs.  Are there any resources available to provide meals for my children who normally receive meals at school?

On June 29, 2020, Governor Abbott extended Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s application deadline for the federal Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer program (“P-EBT”) to July 31, 2020: https://gov.texas.gov/es/news/post/governor-abbott-hhsc-extend-deadline-for-pandemic-food-benefits-for-families-affected-by-covid-19-school-closures. Eligible families include those who lost access to free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program due to school closures.

School District Information

  • The Austin Independent School District (“AISD”) is offering meals for children under the age of 19 while school is closed. Currently, AISD is offering curbside meal pickups at 17 schools across the city, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9:00 am and 11:00 am Central Time. AISD school buses will also deliver meals to bus stop locations across the city, Monday through Friday. For a complete list of locations and times, visit https://www.austinisd.org/covid19/meals. Parents and caregivers may pick up meals for children, even when the child is not present, provided that they have one of the following forms of documentation at the point of meal service: (1) official letter/email from school that shows children as enrolled; (2) individual student report cards; (3) attendance record from Parent Portal of school website; (4) birth certificate for children not in school; or (5) student ID cards. Meal packs are offered at curbside and bus delivery meal sites. Please note that AISD will not serve meals while the district is closed July 6-10, 2020; however, service will resume on Monday, July 13, 2020.
  • Round Rock Independent School District recently extended curbside breakfast and lunch for the following day from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm Central Time, Monday through Friday, through July 31, 2020. For the latest information and a complete list of pickup locations and times, visit https://roundrockisd.org/coronavirus/.
  • The Dallas Independent School District is offering a free meal pickup service once a week for children. The meals are available for all children through the age of 18 (or age 19 if the child turns 19 during the current school year), and to students with disabilities regardless of age. However, the children must be present to receive the meals. The meals are currently being distributed once a week every Thursday between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm Central Time at strategic locations throughout the district. Those strategic locations are provided here: https://www.dallasisd.org/Page/62476.The meals will be distributed curbside at the main entrance of the location.
  • The Houston Independent School District has temporarily closed most of its curbside summer meal sites for two weeks, beginning Friday, July 3, 2020. The sites will undergo deep cleaning and sanitization prior to re-opening on Monday, July 20, 2020. A full list of open meal sites and distribution times is available at https://www.houstonisd.org/SummerMeals. The meals are available for present children and teens up to the age of 18.
  • Other individual school districts are providing curbside breakfast and lunch distribution programs for parents to pick up. Please check with your local school district to see if they are providing meals.

 Food Bank Information

A list of additional food pantries throughout North Texas is provided at https://www.foodpantries.org/ci/tx-dallas. Additional essential resources, such as diapers, wipes, and other hygiene items, are available through Hope Supply Co. (https://hopesupplyco.org/). 

Once schools reopen, can a school board add minutes to the school day for students to make up for lost time? Alternatively, can the commissioner approve reduced operation time of schools for the year?

For each school year, each school district must operate for at least 75,600 minutes. The Commissioner may approve the operation of schools for less than the number of minutes required in the event of extreme weather conditions or a calamity that causes the closing of schools. If the commissioner chooses not to approve reduced operation time, the school district may choose to add additional minutes to the normal school hours to compensate for the minutes lost due to any extreme weather conditions or other calamities. See Texas Education Code § 25.081, Operation of Schools.

If schools are open, can parents who are concerned that their child will contract COVID-19 choose not to send their children to school without withdrawing them?

Local education agencies have broad discretion to determine whether an absence is excused and impose minimum attendance requirements. If the absences are considered unexcused, the absence may contribute to truancy, and truancy actions may result. See Texas Education Code § 25.087, Excused Absences.

Additionally, the TEA and Texas American Federation of Teachers (“Texas AFT”) have additional information for students and teachers regarding school closures. The TEA also has provided information for remote learning for school year 2020-2021:

Additional TEA COVID-19 updates are available at https://tea.texas.gov/texas-schools/health-safety-discipline/coronavirus-COVID-19-support-and-guidance. Texas AFT’s COVID-19 updates are available at https://www.texasaft.org/topics/COVID-19/.

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EVICTIONS

Texas - State

As of July 5, 2020, the Texas Supreme Court has not extended its emergency order staying eviction proceedings. However, housing subject to the federal moratorium under Section 4024 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act may be protected until July 25, 2020. See Emergency Order 15 at https://81db691e-8a8c-4e25-add9-60f4845e34f7.filesusr.com/ugd/64fb99_94a4b7a899094411811f5cdffd8aab25.pdf. For additional information, please visit https://www.txcourts.net/emergency-orders

Do I still owe rent?

Yes. Emergency orders have only temporarily stopped eviction proceedings from occurring; thus, rent is still owed. Eviction proceedings, except for those subject to the CARES Act, were able to commence on May 19, 2020.  

Texas- Austin

What if I’m unable to pay my rent?

The City of Austin provides a list of potential resources for those who need assistance paying rent or utilities at http://www.austintexas.gov/page/resources-renters-help-paying-your-rentutilities. Some of those programs include:

  • Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Program (“TBRA”): The Housing Authority of the City of Austin manages the TBRA, which provides rental subsidies and case management support services to low-income families.

At this time, the Housing Authority of the City of Austin is only accepting individuals that qualify through the Coordinated Assessment administered by the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition.

For more information, either call (512) 477-1314 or visit https://www.hacanet.org/residents/assisted-housing/.

  • Travis County Family Support Services: This program provides rental assistance once every 12 months to applicants who register for workforce development, education, or job training services. 
  • Advocacy Outreach: This program administers state grant funding to help people experiencing homelessness pay for moving expenses and/or security deposits. It also provides financial aid, loans, and grants for rent and/or energy bills. For more information, contact any of the following organizations: Catholic Charities of Central Texas: (512) 651-6100 St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church: (512) 345-8314 St. Vincent de Paul, St. Austin’s Catholic Church: (512) 477-9471 Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, Inc.: (512) 305-4100 Travis County Family Support Services Division: (512) 267-3245 Austin Texas Health and Human Services Department: (512) 972-5011

How can I get help if I think I am at risk of losing my home?

Travis County Justices of the Peace issued a standing order regarding COVID-19, which reset all non-essential court proceedings for after July 22, 2020. No eviction proceedings (commercial or residential) will be held until after July 22, 2020, and no writs of possession will be issued by a Justice Court until July 29, 2020. For more information, visit https://www.traviscountytx.gov/justices-of-peace and https://www.traviscountytx.gov/images/justices_of_peace/Doc/standing-order-regarding-covid-19-justice-peace-effective-06162020.pdf.   

Look to the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department (“NCHD”) for additional resources. These include resources for homeowners and resources for renters, such as resources to avoid mortgage foreclosure and resources concerning tenants’ rights and the eviction process. NHCD employees are continuing regular business operations by phone and electronically. For assistance, dial 311. Additional information is available at https://www.austintexas.gov/housing-resources and https://austintexas.gov/news/nhcd-website-offers-housing-financial-resource-information-amid-COVID-19-outbreak.  

The Austin Tenants Council, which is providing services remotely, offers counseling on the eviction process. For more information, call (512) 474-7006 or visit http://www.housing-rights.org/.   

If you need legal assistance, Legal Advice Clinics are held every Wednesday for Travis County. For more information, visit http://www.vlsoct.org/advice/

What if my home is not a safe environment?

If it is not safe for you to remain in your home, you are urged to find another safe place to stay while the City’s Stay Home – Work Safe Order is in effect. For assistance, please contact:

  • Stop Abuse for Everyone (“SAFE”): (512) 267-7233;
  • Hope Alliance: (800) 460-7233; or
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline: (877) 863-6338.

For more information, visit http://www.austintexas.gov/article/stay-home-work-safe-order-information

Texas – Dallas

As of July 5, 2020, the moratorium on evictions in Dallas County has not been extended. This means you could be evicted for failure to pay rent. Answers to frequently asked questions on evictions in Dallas County are available at https://dallascityhall.com/departments/fairhousing/Pages/COVID-19-EVICTION-FACTS.aspx. For more up-to-date orders issued by Dallas Judge Jenkins, visit https://www.dallascounty.org/COVID-19/judge-orders.php

Do I still owe rent?

Yes. Rent is due during and after the moratorium on eviction proceedings.   

Texas – Houston

As of July 5, 2020, there is no moratorium on eviction proceedings in Houston.  If you qualify for and need legal assistance, you may apply for help by submitting the Houston Volunteer Lawyers’ application (https://hvloi.legalserver.org/modules/matter/extern_intake.php?pid=138&h=652683&) via email to [email protected]. Additional information is available at https://www.makejusticehappen.org/node/569 and https://www.makejusticehappen.org/Evictions. 

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GOVERNMENT GRANTS/LOANS

What are state and local governments doing in response to COVID-19 to provide assistance through grants, loans, or other programs?

Assistance offered by state and local governments vary greatly and individuals and small businesses should seek resources within their state providing more specific information.

Texas provides the following resources for information related to small businesses, unemployment, the restaurant relief fund, and payment programs for taxes, among others. See the following for more information:

A list of available grants for various industries is also available here: https://texas.grantwatch.com/cat/56/coronavirus-covid-grants.html.

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HOMELESSNESS AND INDIVIDUALS IN COMMUNITY/SUPPORTIVE HOUSING

Texas - Austin

How do the City’s orders affect those experiencing homelessness?

Individuals experiencing homelessness are encouraged to practice social distancing, where possible. Resources available to the homeless are available at http://austintexas.gov/department/austins-homeless-strategy-covid-19-support. The City has reported that clean-ups are happening less frequently and that crews are not asking people to relocate unless they are in immediate danger. Individuals experiencing homelessness are, however, strongly encouraged to find shelter. 

To the extent that individuals are using shared or outdoor spaces, they should practice social distancing as much as possible by maintaining at least a six-foot distance from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning highly-touched surfaces, and not shaking hands. Austin also encourages individuals to stay where you shelter whenever possible and to limit interactions with people who are at risk. 

Are shelters and other resources still available?

Governmental and other entities are strongly encouraged to make shelter available as soon as possible and, to the maximum extent practicable, use COVID-19 risk-mitigation practices. Any business or organization that provides food, shelter, social services, or other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals is considered an essential business or organization. Essential businesses and organizations are strongly encouraged to remain open to the greatest extent possible. Additionally, housing and shelter personnel are considered to provide essential government functions. 

The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (located at 500 E 7th Street, Austin, TX 78701) can house up to 130 men and provides assistance with medical and legal issues. The Austin Shelter for Women and Children (located 4613 Tannehill Ln, Bldg 3, Austin, TX 78721) can help homeless women and children find housing. Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals experiencing homelessness may quarantine at the Crowne Plaza near I-35 and E Hwy 290 (6121 North I-35, Austin, TX 78752). 

For a list of available service organizations, shelters, bathrooms, hand-washing stations, and food access, visit http://www.austintexas.gov/department/accessing-resources-during-COVID-19

The City of Austin launched an interactive online map to connect people with services. To view the basic needs map, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/Homelessness

Dial 211 for the latest information about where and when you can access free food during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

I think I have COVID-19, what do I do?

Call the COVID-19 Hotline at (512) 978-8775 for guidance if you are experiencing symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, and shortness of breath) and have had close contact with others who have or may have the virus. Medical professionals will answer the phones and triage callers—specifically those who have no insurance and no established provider—to prevent them from going directly to a clinic, urgent care facility, or emergency department. Stay away from others and follow the guidance from the hotline staff. The hotline is available from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Central Time. 

People with no insurance and no established provider may also call CommUnityCare at (512) 978-9015. CommUnityCare will triage people over the phone and send them to the appropriate location. 

Are there any resources for organizations that provide services to people experiencing homelessness?

The City of Austin has compiled a list of resources for service providers at http://www.austintexas.gov/department/COVID-19-resources-providers

Additionally, the City of Austin and Travis County are complying with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (“CDC’s”) guidance for homeless shelters. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/homeless-shelters/index.html

Construction of affordable housing, facilities for individuals experiencing homelessness, and facilities that provide social services is considered “as critical infrastructure” and is exempt from the city’s Stay Home – Work Safe Order. For more information on Austin’s most recent stay-home orders, visit http://austintexas.gov/department/covid-19-information/stay-home-order

Additional Information:

If you are experiencing homelessness, Austin has compiled a list of resources that are typically available for those experiencing homelessness: http://www.austintexas.gov/department/resources-those-experiencing-homelessness

As part of the city’s COVID-19 response, Austin has repurposed its homelessness strategy website to share critical information directly with people experiencing homelessness. For more information, visit www.austintexas.gov/homelessness

To learn more about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit http://www.austintexas.gov/department/austins-homeless-strategy-COVID-19-support

Texas - Dallas

Are homeless shelters open?

Yes.  Dallas homeless shelters remain open and continue to provide services to those in need of food and shelter.  However, due to the need to increase spacing between beds and shift to all-day operations, capacity may have decreased.  

Are homeless shelters taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Yes.  Homeless shelters are taking steps, such as continuous cleaning, decreasing beds, increasing the spacing between beds, and limiting volunteers to ensure those they serve and who serve are as safe as possible.  Additionally, some shelters have moved to all-day operations so that those without homes have safe and clean places to quarantine. 

Dallas Resources for the Homeless:

Austin Street Center (https://www.austinstreet.org/):
2929 Hickory Street
Dallas, Texas 75226
(214) 428-4242

The Bridge (https://bridgenorthtexas.org/):
1818 Corsicana St.|
Dallas, Texas 75201
(214) 670-1100

  • As chairs and beds are being spaced further apart, the number of individuals that The Bridge can serve is diminishing. The Bridge is still actively providing three meals per day, hygiene services, and recovery services. The Bridge can help direct those in need to other facilities.

The Salvation Army (https://www.salvationarmydfw.org/p/services/homeless):
The Salvation Army Denton Shelter
1508 East McKinney St.
Denton, Texas 76201
(940) 566-3800 

Arlington Family Life Shelter
712 West Abram
Arlington, Texas 76004
(817) 860-1836 

Carr P. Collins Social Service Center
5302 Harry Hines Blvd
Dallas, Texas 75235
(214) 424-7000 

Mabee Social Service Center
1855 E. Lancaster Ave.
Fort Worth, Texas 76103
(817) 344-1800 or dial 1811

Metrocare Services (www.metrocareservices.org):

  • The clinic at The Stewpot is currently closed, but the clinic at The Bridge remains open. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Central Time. You are strongly encouraged to access their telehealth services, if possible. Please call (214) 670-1143 for more information.

North Texas Behavioral Health Authority (https://ntbha.org/):

  • The COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (833) 251-7544.
  • The North Texas Behavioral Health Authority Crisis Line also is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866) 260-8000.

OurCalling (https://www.ourcalling.org/):

  • OurCalling has created a directory of shelters, kitchens, and clinics where those in need can get food, shelter, and medical care. All of this may also be accessed via their mobile app for smartphones and tablets.

Texas - Houston

What resources are available to the homeless in Houston and how can I help?

Individuals experiencing homelessness are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, as such individuals tend to be older, or suffer from underlying illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Many also suffer from mental illness, which means they might not understand what’s happening to them when they get sick.

Houston has implemented a three-prong response focusing on prevention, emergency response and recovery. Prevention measures have included placing more than 20 handwashing stations in the areas with the highest concentrations of homeless individuals, repurposing the Fonde Recreation Center into a shelter and distributing safety equipment to shelters throughout the city. If an emergency response is needed, homeless agencies, shelters, outreach teams and even homeless individuals themselves can call the Homeless Testing hotline at (713) 286-6047 where they will be quickly assessed and provided with transportation to a Homeless Testing site by specialized Yellow Cabs through a partnership with METRO and operated by Healthcare for the Homeless - Houston. Additionally, Houston has set up the The Joint, City and County Quarantine & Isolation Facility, to provide shelter, food and medical care to enable individuals who are referred directly from a hospital or the city’s Homeless Testing program to self-quarantine and isolate as needed. 

Many Houston shelters and their partner organizations are attempting to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting or restricting outside volunteers, increasing the number of brown-bag meals that are handed out to avoid large groups eating at the shelters, and limiting the number of homeless individuals who can access services like laundry and shower facilities at any given time. On April 13, 2020, the City of Houston and Harris County opened a new homeless shelter with 150 beds available to prevent other shelters from becoming over-crowded. 

If you are looking for a way to help, such shelters have indicated that they are in desperate need of donations of cleaning and hygiene supplies and personal protective equipment such as masks. Additionally, please be aware that the CDC has recommended against giving out cash to the homeless at this time so as to reduce the chance that the virus is spread through this medium.

Please regularly check for updates on the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Initiatives website at http://www.houstontx.gov/homeless and the Coalition for the Homeless website at https://www.homelesshouston.org/covid-19

Where can the homeless receive shelter, food, and medical care?

The Coalition for the Homeless maintains and frequently updates a list of Houston locations providing shelter, housing, meals and medical assistance. Information regarding those locations is available at https://www.homelesshouston.org/covid-19. Available shelters are listed below and a map of those shelters is available at https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/2d521d2c/files/uploaded/Street_Map_Final_011519.pdf:

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MEDICAID

Medicaid & CHIP – Texas

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Texas has relaxed certain requirements related to eligibility for receiving or continuing coverage and to become a Medicaid provider.  Texas Health and Human Services is maintaining, and regularly updating, a COVID-19 information page, located at https://hhs.texas.gov/services/health/coronavirus-COVID-19/medicaid-chip-services-information-providers.  The provisions discussed below are based on this website at the time of publication of this portion of the guide.  We recommend you visit the Texas Health and Human Services (“Texas HHS”) website to stay informed of the ongoing updates to Texas’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) programs in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Additional information for people receiving services can be found at https://hhs.texas.gov/services/health/coronavirus-COVID-19/coronavirus-COVID-19-information-people-receiving-services

What are Medicaid and CHIP?

Medicaid is a joint state-federal program that provides health coverage and other benefits, such as nursing home coverage, to certain categories of individuals who cannot otherwise afford such coverage.  CHIP is the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a joint state-federal program, which provides health coverage to eligible children through both Medicaid and separate CHIP programs. 

Testing and Treatment for COVID-19

Medicaid and CHIP will cover COVID-19 testing for those covered by either program.  Healthcare providers will work with local public health officials to determine if an individual should be tested for COVID-19. 

No prior authorization is required on the COVID-19 lab test for those covered by Medicaid and CHIP. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have released a fact sheet detailing the COVID-19 related treatments covered by Medicaid, which can be found here https://www.cms.gov/files/document/03052020-medicaid-COVID-19-fact-sheet.pdf. Answers to additional frequently asked questions are available at https://www.medicaid.gov/state-resource-center/downloads/covid-19-faqs.pdf

CHIP Copayments

Copayments for office visits for those covered by CHIP for services provided from March 13, 2020 through July 31, 2020 have been waived.

Copayments are not required for covered services delivered via telemedicine or telehealth to those covered by CHIP. For more information, visit https://hhs.texas.gov/services/health/coronavirus-covid-19/medicaid-chip-services-information-providers

Extra Medicine or Supplies

Medicaid recipients may be eligible for a 30-day supply of medication if the pharmacist cannot reach your prescriber. Please be sure to contact your pharmacy to determine eligibility and inquire about free home delivery. 

In-Home Care Backup Plans

You or your legally authorized representative should ask your in-home care provider, service coordinator, or case manager about what to do if your provider cannot come to work because they become sick.  You or your legally authorized representative are advised to work with your in-home care provider, your service coordinator, or case manager to develop a backup plan if one is not in place or to update any existing backup plans.  Make sure to keep a copy of the backup plan. 

Provider agencies are required to have backup and emergency plans in place, which include plans for what to do if an in-home care provider cannot work because they become sick.  Your provider agency, managed care organization, and service coordinator must support you in developing those plans. 

If you use the Consumer Directed Services option, you or your legally authorized representative should work with your managed care organization and service coordinator or case manager to develop a backup plan if you do not have one.  Financial Management Services Agencies can help you make Consumer Directed Services budget revisions as needed. 

For more information, please review Information Letter 2020-08, which was revised June 30, 2020: https://apps.hhs.texas.gov/providers/communications/2020/letters/IL2020-08.pdf

Face-to-Face Visits

Face-to-face service coordination visits have been suspended through July 31, 2020 for:

  • STAR Health, STAR Kids, STAR+PLUS, STAR Managed Care Organizations, and Dual Demonstration Medicare-Medicaid Plans;
  • Fee-for-service Medicaid 1915(c) waiver case managers and service coordinators for Community Living Assistance and Support Services, Texas Home Living, Deaf-Blind with Multiple Disabilities, and Home and Community-based Services;
  • General Revenue service coordinators;
  • Community First Choice service coordinators; and
  • Pre-admission Screening and Resident Review habilitation coordinators.

See https://hhs.texas.gov/services/health/coronavirus-covid-19/medicaid-chip-services-information-people-receiving-services for additional information.

During this suspension period, service coordinators and case managers may make contact via telephone to ensure client needs are being met.  However, assessments and reassessments, such as the Screening and Assessment Instrument and Medical Necessity Level of Care, may not be completed over the phone at this time. 

To ensure members do not experience a gap in services due to the temporary suspension of face-to-face service coordination visits for COVID-19, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is extending enrollment in the Medically Dependent Children’s Program and STAR+PLUS Home and Community Based Services for members with individual service plans expiring through July 31, 2020.  The extension applies to the member’s Screening and Assessment Instrument, STAR+PLUS HCBS Medical Necessity Level of Care, and corresponding individual service plans. 

Dual Demonstration, STAR+PLUS, STAR Health, and STAR Kids MCOs will extend enrollment for 90 days for members with individual service plans expiring through July 31, 2020, assess the needs of these members within 90 days, and extend authorizations for waiver services for these members until the assessment occurs. 

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is also extending Intellectual Disability/Related Condition assessments and individual plans of care expiring through July 31, 2020 for individuals who are enrolled in the following programs:

  • Community Living Assistance and Support;
  • Deaf Blind with Multiple Disabilities;
  • Home and Community-based Services Program; and
  • Texas Home Living

For additional information related to the Community Living Assistance and Support and Deaf Blind with Multiple Disabilities programs, see Information Letter 2020-12 at https://apps.hhs.texas.gov/providers/communications/2020/letters/IL2020-12.pdf. Information Letter 2020-11 addresses the Home and Community-based Services Program and the Texas Home Living program and is available at https://apps.hhs.texas.gov/providers/communications/2020/letters/IL2020-11.pdf.

School Health and Related Services

School Health and Related Services are provided to students with a disability to ensure individuals benefit from special education programs.  While schools are temporarily closed for in-person classroom attendance, schools may continue to provide instruction utilizing alternative means of delivery. If the school is unable to provide instruction using alternative means of delivery, the services are not considered eligible for reimbursement under the School Health and Related Services program. Providers are encouraged to work with Managed Care Organizations to ensure that clients have access to needed services during this time. 

For more information, see http://www.tmhp.com/News_Items/2020/06-June/06-29-20%20Multiple%20Medicaid%20COVID-19%20Flexibilities%20Extended%20Through%20July%2031,%202020.pdf.  Additionally, families are encouraged to work with their primary care provider and health plan to access needed services during this time. 

Texas’s 1135 Waiver

On March 25, 2020, Texas applied for what is known as an “1135 waiver,” which requests that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services waive or modify various regulations related to certain government-provided healthcare programs, including Medicaid and CHIP. 

In its waiver request, Texas made various requests intended to make it easier for members to maintain their coverage, increase the number of providers enrolled in Medicaid in the State of Texas, extend various deadlines related to appeals and fair hearings, and otherwise ease the burden of administering the Medicaid program during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

On March 30, 2020, portions of this waiver request were approved.  A copy of Texas’s waiver request can be found at https://hhs.texas.gov/sites/default/files/documents/services/health/coronavirus-COVID-19/section-1135-waiver-COVID-19.pdf.  The notification of partial approval can be found at https://www.medicaid.gov/state-resource-center/disaster-response-toolkit/federal-disaster-resources/entry/54093https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-announces-approval-of-1135-medicaid-waiver.

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RENEWING GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE, LICENSES AND OTHER DOCUMENTS

How has COVID-19 impacted vehicle registration, vehicle titling, and disabled parking placard requirements?

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles continues to provide services by phone, postal mail, and email until further notice. Operations at county tax offices will vary from county to county. 

On May 26, 2020, the DMV began providing certain in-person services by appointment only, operating at 25% capacity. According to the DMV’s answers to frequently asked questions, “You will have 60 days from the date the department announces that normal operations have resumed to have your vehicle inspected and complete the registration process. To receive email notification of this announcement, please subscribe to our mailing list at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/TXDMV/subscriber/new?topic_id=TXDMV_290.” More information can be found at: https://www.txdmv.gov/COVID-19

How does COVID-19 impact the renewal of driver licenses and identification cards?

The Texas Department of Public Safety has extended the expiration date of Texas identification cards, driver licenses, commercial driver licenses, and election identification certificates. If your Texas identification card, driver license, commercial driver license, or election identification certificate expires on or after March 13, 2020, you are granted a waiver for the expiration date for 60 days after the Department provides further public notice that normal operations have resumed. Texas driver license and identification card holders who are eligible may conduct a renewal, address change or replacement transaction online by visiting Texas.gov. More information can be found at https://www.dps.texas.gov/director_staff/media_and_communications/pr/2020/0319a

What government benefits are available and how do I apply?

New applications for the Texas Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), Texas Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”), and Texas Children’s Health Insurance Policy (“CHIP”), and Medicaid are being accepted online. Visit YourTexasBenefits.com or log into the “Your Texas Benefits” mobile app. Although office locations will remain open, Texans are encouraged to apply online or through the mobile app. If you recently applied for SNAP or Medicaid or received a notice to call Texas Health and Human Services, you do not need to call or speak to anyone to complete your application. More information can be found at https://hhs.texas.gov/services/health/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-information-people-receiving-services

Additionally, Governor Abbott announced an extension of emergency SNAP benefits on July 2, 2020. See the press release at https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-hhsc-announce-extension-of-emergency-snap-benefits-during-covid-19-pandemic_2

How do I renew my current SNAP and/or Medicaid benefits?

Current SNAP and Medicaid recipients will have their benefits renewed automatically. No further action is necessary, and recipients will be notified by mail when it is time for them to renew their benefits. More information can be found at https://www.yourtexasbenefits.com/Learn/Home

How do I renew government benefits other than SNAP and Medicaid?

Texas Health and Human Services is encouraging Texans to submit benefit applications and other paperwork online at https://yourtexasbenefits.com/ or via the “Your Texas Benefits” mobile app. Through the website or the mobile app, Texans can:

  • Create a new account;
  • Find their username on existing account;
  • Upload files;
  • Update their phone number; and
  • Report changes.

How can I stay updated?

As the COVID-19 response develops, new and updated information may be obtained by calling the Texas hotline at 211. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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TANF/SNAP BENEFITS

TEXAS TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES (“TANF”)

What is TANF?

The TANF program is a support service for Texas families that provides monthly cash payments and medical assistance to dependent children in need and the parents or relatives with whom they live. 

Eligible households receive monthly cash and Medicaid benefits. 

What Benefits are available?

Monthly cash payments to help pay for food, clothing, housing, utilities, furniture, transportation, phone, laundry, supplies for the home, medical supplies not paid for by Medicaid, and other basic needs. 

How much cash can I get per month through TANF?

The chart below provides benefits based on the number of children and parents/caretakers in the household:

 

Family size

Child-only cases

Home with 1 parent or 1 caretaker

Home with 2 parents or 2 caretakers

1

$104

$126

----------

2

$149

$262

$200

3

$209

$303

$332

4

$249

$364

$372

5

$320

$404

$432

*For each additional person, add $70. 

Do I qualify?

To qualify for TANF, you must be:

  • A resident of Texas;
  • Pregnant or responsible for a child (or multiple children) under 19 years of age;
  • A U.S. national, citizen, legal alien, or permanent resident; and
  • Be under-employed (working for very low wages), unemployed, or about to become unemployed.

Here is a guide for the maximum monthly income to qualify for TANF benefits:

Family size

Child-only cases

Home with 1 parent or 1 caretaker

Home with 2 parents or 2 caretakers

1

$64

$78

----------

2

$92

$163

$125

3

$130

$188

$206

4

$154

$226

$231

5

$198

$251

$268

* For each additional person, add $43. 

Families also can receive a one-time payment of TANF benefits for a family crisis, such as losing a job, losing a home, or a family emergency (such as a family member suffering from COVID-19).

To determine eligibility, visit https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/1679#Eligibility_Checker

I am a grandparent caring for a child who receives TANF benefits, do I qualify to receive benefits?

Yes. These are the general monthly income limits for grandparents seeking TANF benefits: 

 

Family size

Monthly income limit

1

$2,127

2

$2,904

3

$3,620

4

$4,367

5

$5,114

For each additional person, add:

$747

Where do I apply for TANF benefits?

Apply online at https://www.yourtexasbenefits.com/Learn/Home or over the phone by dialing 211 (option 6).

What information will I need when applying?

Be ready to answer questions about everyone applying, such as:

  • Social Security number and birth date;
  • Citizenship or immigration status;
  • Money from jobs and other sources;
  • The value of cars and other property; and
  • Costs you pay for bills.

Are there rules if I receive TANF benefits?

Yes. Parents or caretakers receiving TANF benefits must agree to:

  • Train for a job or look for work;
  • Follow child support rules;
  • Not quit a job;
  • Not abuse alcohol or drugs;
  • Take parental skills classes;
  • Get vaccines for their child; and
  • Make sure their child is going to school. 

 
TEXAS SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (“SNAP”)

What is SNAP?

The SNAP program is a support service that helps people buy the food they need for good health. On July 2, 2020, Governor Abbott extended emergency SNAP benefits: https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-hhsc-announce-extension-of-emergency-snap-benefits-during-covid-19-pandemic_2

 

How does it work?

  • SNAP food benefits are put on a Lone Star Card and can be used just like a debit card at any store that accepts SNAP.
  • If you apply and are eligible for SNAP benefits, you will receive a Lone Star Card from your local Health and Human Services Commission benefit office or by mail.

Do I qualify?

To qualify for SNAP benefits, you must follow the work rules listed below and have monthly income lower than the following amounts:

 

Family size

Monthly amount of income allowed

1

$1,718

2

$2,326

3

$2,933

4

$3,541

5

$4,149

For each additional person, add:

$608

Adults ages 18 to 49, with no children in the home, can get SNAP for only 3 months in a 3-year period. However, the benefit period may be longer if you work at least 20 hours a week or are in a job or training program. During the COVID-19 pandemic, federal law now requires that states must stop counting months toward the 3-month time limit. Therefore, even able-bodied adults without dependents and who are not working or participating in work activities an average of 20 hours per week are not subject to time limits until further notice. 

What are the work rules that I have to follow if I receive SNAP benefits?

Recipients of SNAP benefits who are between the ages of 16 and 59 must look for a job or be in an approved work program. If you already have a job, you can’t quit without a good reason. 

Some adults might not have to work to get benefits, such as those who have a disability or are pregnant. 

How much can I receive in SNAP benefits?

Eligible recipients of SNAP benefits can receive monthly benefits up to the following amounts based on family size and monthly income qualification. However, due to COVID-19, all SNAP recipients will get the maximum amount for their household size for July. 

 

Family size

Monthly SNAP amount

1

$194

2

$355

3

$509

4

$646

5

$768

For each additional person, add:

$146

Can I use my SNAP benefits for grocery delivery, or do I have to go into the store?

Starting May 18, recipients of SNAP benefits will be able to order groceries online for delivery from Walmart and Amazon. As additional stores become available for grocery delivery, those additions will be listed on YourTexasBenefits.com. 

Can I use SNAP benefits to buy anything?

No. SNAP benefits cannot be used to:

  • Buy tobacco;
  • Buy alcoholic drinks;
  • Buy things you cannot eat or drink; or
  • Pay for food bills you owe.

Where do I apply for SNAP benefits?

Apply online at https://www.yourtexasbenefits.com/Learn/Home or over the phone by dialing 211 (option 6). 

I’m already a recipient of SNAP benefits, do I need to renew?

No. Currently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SNAP and Medicaid recipients will have their benefits renewed automatically. Additionally, recipients will be notified by mail when it is time for them to renew their benefits. For more information, visit https://www.yourtexasbenefits.com/Learn/Home.

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UTILITY ASSISTANCE

Texas - Austin 

Will my utility services be disconnected if I am unable to pay?

Depending on your circumstances, your utility services may not be disconnected. Texas passed the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program and the city of Austin passed the Utility Bill Relief Program in response to the COVID‑19 outbreak. 

What is the State of Texas COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program and am I eligible?

Under a new state program called the State of Texas COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program that is helping eligible Texans keep their power on during the COVID-19 outbreak, your energy company will waive late fees, extend payment due dates with no down payment required, reduce down payments, and defer balances if you qualify. If you’ve recently filed for unemployment with the Texas Workforce Commission, you’re eligible. If you're the primary account holder and receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) or Medicaid, you’re automatically enrolled and do not need to apply online or over the phone.

Apply at https://www.txcovid19erp.org/ or call the Texas Lifeline 24/7 at (866) 454-8387. Note that, as of July 2, 2020, the program was extended through August 30, 2020.

The State of Texas has partnered with SOLIX to process all relief fund applications through the Texas Lifeline. If you call, you may experience long wait times as agents work to serve all Texans in need of assistance. For more information, please visit https://electricityplans.com/electricity-relief-program-covid19-bill-payment-assistance/.

 To enroll, you must: 

  • Enroll online at https://www.txcovid19erp.org/ or call Solix at (866) 454-8387
  • Provide the first and last name of the account holder
  • Confirm the service address with city and ZIP code 

You may also be asked to provide your account number, ESID (can be found on your electricity bill), the last four digits of the account holder’s Social Security number (SSN) and/or the telephone number associated with the account. 

After enrolling, eligible participants will be required to submit both their electricity bill and a copy of their acceptance from the Texas Workforce Commission within 30 days to Solix via: 

  • Fax: (877) 215-8018
  • Mail: P.O. Box 4060, Killeen, Texas 76540-4060
  • Email: [email protected]  

What is the Utility Bill Relief Program and am I eligible?

On April 9, 2020, the city of Austin passed the “Utility Bill Relief” in response to COVID-19.  Please find details on the bill at https://austinenergy.com/ae/about/news/coa-bill-relief.

The City of Austin has suspended utility shutoffs for nonpayment and all late fees are waived until September 30, 2020.  Regulatory electric charges are reduced by 32% for residential (set at 7.814 cents/kWh for usage above 1,000 kWh) and commercial customers, which will result in about a 4% reduction of the total bill. This change for residential customers is in effect immediately and on May 1, 2020 for commercial customers.  Both reductions will extend under September 30, 2020. If your utilities have been disconnected, you should call the Customer Care Contact Center at (512) 494-9400 to get reconnected. The press release is available at https://austinenergy.com/ae/about/news/news-releases/2020/city-of-austin-suspends-utility-disconnects-amid-COVID-19.

Additionally, the following companies have temporarily suspended natural gas service disconnections due to nonpayment: 

  • CenterPoint Energy
  • Atmos Energy
  • Texas Gas Services

For additional updates related to COVID-19, visit https://austinenergy.com/ae/about/news/COVID-19-updates.

Can I get help paying my utilities?

Austin Energy, which manages customer care and billing for all City of Austin utilities, offers several programs to help customers facing temporary and long-term financial difficulties and serious medical problems. The following Customer Assistance Programs are available to eligible customers: 

  • Utility Bill Discounts: Austin Energy provides waivers for electric and water customer charges and discounts on electrical and water volume usage charges through September 30, 2020.

    Customers on low or fixed incomes who participate in certain state, federal, or local assistance programs, such as Medicaid, SNAP, and Children’s Health Insurance Policy (“CHIP”), may qualify. Customers may also be eligible if their household income is less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.

    For more information, or to print an application, visit https://austinenergy.com/ae/residential/your-bill/customer-assistance-programs/cap-discounts/.

    For eligibility questions, or to request a form by mail, call (855) 319-6630.

How do I make my utility payments?

Both City of Austin walk-in utility payments centers remain closed as of July 5, 2020. 

Customers are encouraged to make City of Austin utility payments online at www.coautilities.com and to call Customer Care at (512) 494-9400 for service needs. Additional payment options include the following: 

  • Mailing a money order or check to P.O. Box 2267, Austin, Texas 78783-2267;
  • Paying at authorized locations, including most Austin H-E-B, Fiesta Mart, and Randall’s stores; or
  • Using an authorized payment drop box location.

 For a list of authorized pay stations and available drop boxes, visit https://austinenergy.com/ae/commercial/your-bill/bill-payment-options/payment-locations.

Who do I contact if I have a problem with my utility services? 

  • Austin Energy: Residential and commercial customers can contact the Customer Care Center at (512) 494-9400 to make payment arrangements, determine eligibility for Customer Assistance Programs, to start, stop, or reconnect services, or ask any service-related questions.
  • Texas Gas Services: Customers in need of assistance can call (800) 700-2443 for self-service or to speak to a representative. For updates related to COVID-19, please visit https://www.texasgasservice.com/coronavirus. Disconnect activity is suspended through July 11, 2020, unless otherwise extended.
  • CenterPoint Energy: Natural gas customers who would like to discuss payment options should call (800) 752-8036. Customers may also request assistance and request a payment arrangement or extension online at https://www.centerpointenergy.com. CenterPoint’s COVID-19 response is available at https://www.centerpointenergy.com/en-us/corporate/covid19.
  • Atmos Energy: Customers with any questions are encouraged to call (888) 286-6700. Atmos Energy also offers help paying bills and budget billing programs. For updates related to COVID-19, please visit https://www.atmosenergy.com/safety/COVID-19.

Texas - Dallas

Has the government taken steps to offer utility assistance in Dallas?

Yes. The Public Utility Commission of Texas has enacted measures intended to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 hardships on power, water, and sewer customers statewide.  On March 26, 2020, the Commission issued an Order Related to COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program, which “authorize[d] a customer-assistance program for certain residential customers of electric service in areas of the state open to customer choice.”  A copy of the order is available at https://interchange.puc.texas.gov/Documents/50664_107_1057678.PDF. Information on the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program is available at http://www.puc.texas.gov/covid-19/; and https://www.txcovid19erp.org/. 

Can residential electric providers disconnect your service due to nonpayment?

No. The COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program “creates a temporary exemption from disconnections for nonpayment for eligible residential customers in areas open to customer choice,” which includes Dallas. For more information, visit https://electricityplans.com/electricity-relief-program-covid19-bill-payment-assistance/; and https://www.texastribune.org/2020/03/26/texas-bans-utility-shut-offs-during-coronavirus-outbreak/. Further, the Public Utility Commission of Texas will require retail electric providers “to offer deferred payment plans to customers who have experienced financial hardship due to the state of disaster.”  A customer who has entered into a deferred payment plan, however, may be unable to buy electricity from another retail electric provider until their debt has been paid. https://interchange.puc.texas.gov/Documents/50664_107_1057678.PDF 

Who do I call if my utilities have been shut off?

Water: Dallas Water Utilities has suspended water service disconnects until further notice. If you have been financially impacted by COVID-19, contact Water Customer Service at (214) 651-1441 to make payment arrangements.

Electricity: Under the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Plan, electricity providers must (1) immediately offer a deferred payment plan to any residential customer who requests it and (2) suspend disconnections for residential customers who have been added to the state’s unemployment and low-income list due to the effects of COVID-19 (to enroll in the list, contact the state’s low-Income list administrator at (866) 454-8387). 

How do residential customers sign up for relief? 

The customer must contact the Low-Income List Administrator (“LILA”).  The residential customer must provide LILA an attestation of unemployment (to be followed by documentation of unemployment within 30 days) and sufficient information to identify the customer’s electric service account (e.g., service address, account number, and telephone number). As of July 5, 2020, the program is available through August 31, 2020: https://www.opuc.texas.gov/coronavirus.html. 

The LILA will then determine which customers are eligible for the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program, and retail electric providers will stop submitting orders to disconnect services for those customers: https://www.texastribune.org/2020/03/26/texas-bans-utility-shut-offs-during-coronavirus-outbreak/. 

What happens after you inform your electricity provider that you are unable to pay a bill?

When a customer informs their electricity provider of an inability to pay a bill, or to make a deferred payment plan installment, the retail electric provider will inform the customer of the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program and will provide instructions for the customer to contact the LILA to self-enroll.  Moreover, once the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program is implemented, the moratorium on disconnections for nonpayment currently implemented by the transmission and distribution utilities will end.  The electricity provider will be permitted to collect the remaining balance from its customers after the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program ceases. 

How long will this relief last?

The COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program is currently set to end on August 31, 2020; however, it may be extended if the Public Utility Commission of Texas determines that the need for the program continues to exist: https://www.puc.texas.gov/agency/resources/pubs/news/2020/PUCTX-PR-ERPupdate-07022020.pdf. Additionally, the Commission has recognized that the current state of disaster continues to bring new challenges that may require modifications to the program. 

What is not included in the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program?

The program does not include commercial services and it does not require electricity providers to reconnect customers whose services were cut off prior to the COVID-19 crisis. See https://www.texastribune.org/2020/03/26/texas-bans-utility-shut-offs-during-coronavirus-outbreak/ for additional background information. 

Can water, sewer, and natural gas utilities charge late fees or disconnect customers for nonpayment during this emergency?

The Public Utility Commission of Texas (the “Commission”) has announced that “Texas water and sewer utilities and integrated electric utilities outside of the [Electric Reliability Council of Texas] market . . . whose rates are set by the [Commission], may not charge late fees or disconnect customers for nonpayment during the emergency.” Refer to the Commission’s news release from March 26, 2020 for additional information: https://www.puc.texas.gov/agency/resources/pubs/news/2020/PUCTX-MR-PR-COVID19-OM-FIN.pdf.  The Commission’s announcements, however, do not impact natural gas services, which are regulated by the Railroad Commission of Texas: https://www.dallasnews.com/business/2020/03/26/texas-halts-water-and-power-disconnects-amid-wave-of-layoffs/.

What steps have energy and telecommunications companies announced to assist the public during the COVID-19 crisis? 

Ambit Energy: The State of Texas has created the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program to help protect customers who are low income or unemployed as a result of COVID-19. Eligible customers will temporarily receive protection from disconnection. Those who receive assistance through SNAP or Medicaid should be automatically enrolled in this relief program. Those who have recently filed for unemployment with the Texas Workforce Commission may be eligible as well and should call to confirm eligibility with the third-party administrator, Solix.

To enroll, you must:

  • Enroll online by visiting https://www.txcovid19erp.org/ or by calling Solix at (866) 454-8387
  • Provide the first and last name of the account holder
  • Confirm the service address with city and zip code
  • You may also need to provide your account number, ESID (can be found on your electricity bill), the last four digits of the account holder’s social security number (SSN) and/or the telephone number associated with the account.

 After enrolling, eligible participants will be required to submit both their electricity bill and a copy of their acceptance from the Texas Workforce Commission within 30 days to Solix via: 

  • Fax: (877) 215-8018
  • Mail: P.O. Box 4060, Killeen, Texas 76540-4060
  • Email: [email protected]

For additional details and online enrollment, please visit https://www.ambitenergy.com/covid19-relief

If you need payment assistance, contact Ambit’s customer support at (817) 282-6248. 

AT&T: AT&T committed to extending certain customer relief programs during COVID-19 through June 30, 2020. As of July 5, 2020, AT&T has not re-extended its relief programs. Please check AT&T’s COVID-19 Consumers Archive for updated information: https://about.att.com/pages/COVID-19/consumers_archive.html

Currently, AT&T Internet customers will not be charged for Internet overage charges through September 30, 2020. https://about.att.com/pages/COVID-19.html. Should you find yourself in financial trouble and unable to pay your bill, contact AT&T at (800) 288-2020 or dial 611 from your AT&T device for wireless.

Atmos Energy: Atmos Energy has temporarily suspended natural gas disconnections for non-payment as well as certain other work including construction projects that might otherwise temporarily interrupt service.  If you have been financially impacted by COVID-19, Atmos has programs to help, including Sharing the Warmth and Budget Billing.

 For more information from Atmos, customers should call (888) 286-6700. 

Charter Communications: As of July 5, 2020, Charter has not extended its 60-day free broadband internet & WiFi offer for households with students (K-College) and educators who do not already have a Spectrum account that ended June 30, 2020. Should Charter extend this program, you may enroll by calling (844) 488-8395. For more information, see https://corporate.charter.com/newsroom/charter-extends-free-60-day-spectrum-broadband-internet-and-wifi-offer-through-june-30https://corporate.charter.com/newsroom/covid-19-update-charter-continues-to-keep-customers-connected

Charter also has not extended its pledge to not terminate service or charge late fees for residential or small business customers who face difficult economic circumstances related to COVID-19 through June 30, 2020. Charter also will continue to offer Spectrum Internet Assist, Charter’s high-speed, low-cost broadband program for eligible low-income households.

For more information, please visit https://corporate.charter.com/newsroom/charter-covid-19-update. 

Comcast: As of July 5, 2020, Comcast has not extended its commitment to not disconnect a customer’s Xfinity Internet, Xfinity Mobile, or Xfinity Voice service or will waive late fees through June 30, 2020. For more up-to-date information, visit Comcast’s COVID-19 response page at https://www.xfinity.com/prepare?rid=18645124915&mid=20200627_Adhoc_CM_Crisis_COVIDUpdate7;https://corporate.comcast.com/covid-19. 

However, you may contact Xfinity to create a flexible payment option. Comcast also has opened access to its Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots that are located in businesses and outdoor locations across the country to anyone who needs them for free, including to non-Xfinity internet subscribers.  For a map of Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots, visit https://www.xfinity.com/mobile/network/mapOnce at a hotspot, consumers should select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots and then launch a browser.

Comcast also permanently increased speeds for all of its new and existing Internet Essentials customers across the country.

Dallas Water Utilities: Dallas Water Utilities has suspended water service disconnects until further notice. Customers who are financially impacted by COVID-19 should contact Water Customer Service at (214) 651-1441 to make payment arrangements. 

Discount Power: The State of Texas has created the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program to help protect customers who are low income or unemployed as a result of COVID-19. Eligible customers will temporarily receive protection from disconnection. Those who receive assistance through SNAP or Medicaid should be automatically enrolled in this relief program. Those who have recently filed for unemployment with the Texas Workforce Commission may be eligible as well and should call to confirm eligibility with the third-party administrator, Solix.

To enroll, you must:

  • Enroll online by visiting https://www.txcovid19erp.org/ or by calling Solix at (866) 454-8387
  • Provide the first and last name of the account holder
  • Confirm the service address with city and zip code
  • You may also need to provide your account number, ESID (can be found on your electricity bill), the last four digits of the account holder’s social security number (SSN) and/or the telephone number associated with the account.

 After enrolling, eligible participants will be required to submit both their electricity bill and a copy of their acceptance from the Texas Workforce Commission within 30 days to Solix via: 

  • Fax: (877) 215-8018
  • Mail: P.O. Box 4060, Killeen, Texas 76540-4060
  • Email: [email protected]

For additional details and online enrollment, please visit https://www.discountpowertx.com/en_US/Page/coronavirus.jsp.

Green Mountain Energy: The State of Texas has created the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program to help protect customers who are low income or unemployed as a result of COVID-19. Eligible customers will temporarily receive protection from disconnection. Those who receive assistance through SNAP or Medicaid should be automatically enrolled in this relief program. Those who have recently filed for unemployment with the Texas Workforce Commission may be eligible as well and should call to confirm eligibility with the third-party administrator, Solix. 

To enroll, you must: 

  • Enroll online by visiting https://www.txcovid19erp.org/ or by calling Solix at (866) 454-8387
  • Provide the first and last name of the account holder
  • Confirm the service address with city and zip code
  • You may also need to provide your account number, ESID (can be found on your electricity bill), the last four digits of the account holder’s social security number (SSN) and/or the telephone number associated with the account.

 After enrolling, eligible participants will be required to submit both their electricity bill and a copy of their acceptance from the Texas Workforce Commission within 30 days to Solix via:

  • Fax: (877) 215-8018
  • Mail: P.O. Box 4060, Killeen, Texas 76540-4060
  • Email: [email protected]

After enrolling, Green Mountain Energy requests that you contact them at https://www.greenmountainenergy.com/customer-service-center/contact-us/

For more information, please visit: https://www.greenmountainenergy.com/2020/03/coronavirus-and-our-customers. 

  • If requesting a payment extension, you must call prior to the disconnection notice due date to request the extension. A payment extension allows extra time beyond your original due date to pay your balance without fear of disconnection. However, you may be assessed a late fee, a disconnection notice fee (if you received a disconnection notice) and a disconnect recovery fee.
  • For those looking to sign up for a deferred payment plan, note that as part of the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program, deferred payment plans will be offered to all customers, upon request. A deferred payment plan allows you to pay the balance you owe in installments along with your regular monthly bill. A reminder that if you agree to a deferred payment plan, you will not be able to switch to another electricity provider until your deferred balance is paid in full. Amounts you owe for enrollment deposits, final bills and write-off amounts may not be included.

Any customer who requests a deferred payment plan should note that they need to (1) pay 50% of what you owe up front and (2) be prepared to pay the rest in installments along with your next few current monthly bills.

Fort Worth Water Department: The Fort Worth Water Department is temporarily suspending disconnections due to nonpayment through September 7, 2020. Additionally, the Department started assessing late fees for nonpayment on July 1, 2020; however, the 10% late fee will not apply to previous balances accrued on bills due between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Customers experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 event should call (817) 392-4477 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to make payment arrangements. More information is available at http://fortworthtexas.gov/news/2020/06/Water-Shutoffs-Resume/; and http://fortworthtexas.gov/COVID-19/. 

Reliant Energy: Reliant is supporting customers who are facing hardships associated with COVID-19 by: 

  • Providing payment extensions and waiving late fees;
  • Assisting customers with deferred payment plans; and
  • Offering bill payment assistance through Reliant’s CARE program.

 Additionally, Reliant is pausing payment-related disconnects for residential and small commercial customers. If you have questions or concerns, you can reach Reliant by visiting https://www.reliant.com/en/residential/customer-care/contact-us/index.jsp, downloading the Reliant app, or calling (866) 735-4268.

For more information, please visit: https://news.reliant.com/press-releases/press-release-details/2020/Reliant-Helping-Customers-During-Coronavirus-Pandemic/default.aspx; and https://www.reliant.com/en/about/community/covid-19-support.jsp. 

StreamThe State of Texas has created the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program to help protect customers who are low income or unemployed as a result of COVID-19. Eligible customers will temporarily receive protection from disconnection. Those who receive assistance through SNAP or Medicaid should be automatically enrolled in this relief program. Those who have recently filed for unemployment with the Texas Workforce Commission may be eligible as well and should call to confirm eligibility with the third-party administrator, Solix. 

To enroll, you must:

  • Enroll online by visiting https://www.txcovid19erp.org/ or by calling Solix at (866) 454-8387
  • Provide the first and last name of the account holder
  • Confirm the service address with city and zip code
  • You may also need to provide your account number, ESID (can be found on your electricity bill), the last four digits of the account holder’s social security number (SSN) and/or the telephone number associated with the account.

 After enrolling, eligible participants will be required to submit both their electricity bill and a copy of their acceptance from the Texas Workforce Commission within 30 days to Solix via: 

  • Fax: (877) 215-8018
  • Mail: P.O. Box 4060, Killeen, Texas 76540-4060
  • Email: [email protected]

 After enrolling, Stream requests that you contact them at https://mystream.com/en/contact. 

  • If requesting a payment extension, you must call prior to the disconnection notice due date to request the extension. A payment extension allows extra time beyond your original due date to pay your balance without fear of disconnection. However, you may be assessed a late fee, a disconnection notice fee (if you received a disconnection notice) and a disconnect recovery fee.However, you will not be charged a 5% late fee penalty for delinquent bills for electricity service, as a result of the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program detailed above
  • For those looking to sign up for a deferred payment plan, note that as part of the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program, deferred payment plans will be offered to all customers, upon request. A deferred payment plan allows you to pay the balance you owe in installments along with your regular monthly bill. A reminder that if you agree to a deferred payment plan, you will not be able to switch to another electricity provider until your deferred balance is paid in full. Amounts you owe for enrollment deposits, final bills and write-off amounts may not be included.Any customer who requests a deferred payment plan should note that they need to (1) pay 50% of what you owe up front and (2) be prepared to pay the rest in installments along with your next few current monthly bills (invoices).

 For more information, please visit: https://mystream.com/blog/Coronavirus-and-Stream.

TriEagle Energy: Under a new state program that is helping eligible Texans keep their power on, TriEagle Energy will waive late fees, extend payment due dates with no down payment required, reduce down payments, and defer balances. If you’ve recently filed for unemployment with the Texas Workforce Commission, you’re eligible. Apply at https://www.txcovid19erp.org/ or call the Texas Lifeline 24/7 at (866) 454-8387. If you're the primary account holder and receive SNAP or Medicaid, you’re automatically enrolled and do not need to apply online or over the phone.  The State of Texas has partnered with SOLIX to process all relief fund applications through the Texas Lifeline. If you call, you may experience long wait times as agents work to serve all Texans in need of assistance. For more information, please visit http://www.trieagleenergy.com/TX/CustomerService/FAQ.aspx. 

TXU Energy: Under a new state program that is helping eligible Texans keep their power on, TXU Energy will waive late fees, extend payment due dates with no down payment required, reduce down payments, and defer balances. If you’ve recently filed for unemployment with the Texas Workforce Commission, you’re eligible. Apply at https://www.txcovid19erp.org/ or call the Texas Lifeline 24/7 at (866) 454-8387. If you're the primary account holder and receive SNAP or Medicaid, you’re automatically enrolled and do not need to apply online or over the phone.  The State of Texas has partnered with SOLIX to process all relief fund applications through the Texas Lifeline. If you call, you may experience long wait times as agents work to serve all Texans in need of assistance. For more information, please visit https://www.txu.com/help-center/covid-19.aspx. 

If you need payment flexibility, call TXU Energy at (800) 242-9113 if you need more time to pay. TXU Energy can work with you on a deferred payment plan. With a one-time down payment, you can spread your remaining balance over the next five months. 

If you or someone you know needs bill payment assistance, additional support is available through TXU Energy Aid. Call 2-1-1 or visit 211texas.org and search Electricity Bill Assistance to find programs in your area. 

Verizon: As of July 5, 2020, Verizon has not extended its no late fee or termination of service program that was through June 30, 2020. If you contacted Verizon by June 30, 2020 to protect your account, you have been automatically enrolled in a repayment program: https://www.verizon.com/support/residential/announcements/covid-19.  

For more information, please visit: https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/covid-19-faqs/. 

XOOM Energy: If you have been financially impacted by COVID-19, contact XOOM Energy directly to learn about payment extensions and deferred payment plan options by phone at (888) 997-8979 or online at https://xoomenergy.com/en/contact-usAlso, the State of Texas has created the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program (ERP) to help protect customers experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. Eligible customers will temporarily receive protection from disconnection. Those who receive assistance through SNAP or Medicaid are automatically enrolled in this relief program. Those who have recently filed for unemployment with the Texas Workforce Commission may be eligible as well and should call to confirm eligibility with the Public Utility Commission of Texas' third-party administrator of the COVID-19 ERP, Solix. 

To enroll, you must: 

  • Enroll online at https://www.txcovid19erp.org/ or call Solix at (866) 454-8387
  • Provide the first and last name of the account holder
  • Confirm the service address with city and ZIP code 

You may also be asked to provide your account number, ESID (can be found on your electricity bill), the last four digits of the account holder’s Social Security number (SSN) and/or the telephone number associated with the account. 

After enrolling, eligible participants will be required to submit both their electricity bill and a copy of their acceptance from the Texas Workforce Commission within 30 days to Solix via:

  • Fax: (877) 215-8018
  • Mail: P.O. Box 4060, Killeen, Texas 76540-4060
  • Email: [email protected]  

Contact XOOM Energy to let them know that you have attempted to enroll with Solix. Also, if your payment due date is coming up, contact XOOM Energy so they can work with you on a deferred payment plan. Please note, that you will be eligible for a deferred payment plan with XOOM Energy even if your enrollment with Solix is not successful. If you need help paying your bill, please visit https://xoomenergy.com/en/coronavirus-health-and-safety-tips or call customer service at (888) 997-8979.

For more information, please visit https://xoomenergy.com/en/coronavirus-health-and-safety-tips .

Texas - Houston

Can I seek help paying for utility bills? 

Yes. You can seek assistance with respect to your utility bills from three places: (1) your utility provider; (2) a charity; or (3) the government.

Utility Provider 

  • Most utility companies provide payment assistance and/or payment plans for bills in certain situations. Such situations include customers who are experiencing temporary financial difficulties, including unexpected unemployment, sudden illness, or an emergency or personal crisis. For more information, visit https://www.needhelppayingbills.com/html/energy_assistance_program.html.
  • Contact your utility company immediately after you know you will not be able to pay your bill, not after the service has been disconnected. This link provides descriptions of the assistance from the main utility companies in Texas and contact information for those companies: https://www.needhelppayingbills.com/html/texas_utility_and_cooling_assi.html.

Charity

Government – State of Texas COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program

A new state program called the State of Texas COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program is helping eligible Texans keep their power on during the COVID-19 outbreak. Under this program, your energy company will waive late fees, extend payment due dates with no down payment required, reduce down payments, and defer balances if you qualify. If you’ve recently filed for unemployment with the Texas Workforce Commission, you’re eligible. If you're the primary account holder and receive SNAP or Medicaid, you’re automatically enrolled and do not need to apply online or over the phone.

Apply at https://www.txcovid19erp.org/ or call the Texas Lifeline 24/7 at (866) 454-8387.

The State of Texas has partnered with SOLIX to process all relief fund applications through the Texas Lifeline. If you call, you may experience long wait times as agents work to serve all Texans in need of assistance. For more information, please visit https://electricityplans.com/electricity-relief-program-covid19-bill-payment-assistance/.

 To enroll, you must: 

  • Enroll online at https://www.txcovid19erp.org/ or call Solix at (866) 454-8387
  • Provide the first and last name of the account holder
  • Confirm the service address with city and ZIP code 

You may also be asked to provide your account number, ESID (can be found on your electricity bill), the last four digits of the account holder’s Social Security number (SSN) and/or the telephone number associated with the account. 

After enrolling, eligible participants will be required to submit both their electricity bill and a copy of their acceptance from the Texas Workforce Commission within 30 days to Solix via: 

  • Fax: (877) 215-8018
  • Mail: P.O. Box 4060, Killeen, Texas 76540-4060
  • Email: [email protected] 

Government – Other Programs 

  • The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (“LIHEAP”) helps families with their energy costs. More information is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/programs/liheap.
  •  In Texas, LIHEAP is administered under the Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (“CEAP”), which funds local organizations. To apply, you must submit an application with your local organization, which may be found at https://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/texans.htm.
  •  For specific information on CEAP, please visit https://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/community-affairs/ceap/.
  •  The amount of help or benefits you can receive from the government is usually determined by your household size, income, your fuel type, and location. There are two different types of assistance available: cash grants (on-going help); and crisis grants (emergency grant after receiving a disconnect notice).
  • Under CEAP, the Houston organizations that provide utility bill assistance are:

BakerRipley 

Contact Information:

 Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be a resident of Harris County;
  • Must meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Income Guidelines;
  • Must show proof of identity for all household members – current/valid Texas Driver’s License, Texas ID, U.S. Passport, U.S. Military ID or U.S. Permanent Resident Card;
  • Must provide proof of Citizenship or legal residency for all household members – U.S. Passport, U.S. Birth Certificate, U.S. Permanent Resident Card;
  • Must provide proof of income for the past 30 days for all household members 18 years of age and older — such as employer gross wages, Social Security, Unemployment, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (“TANF”), Child Support, Adoption Subsidies, Food Stamp Award Letter, Retirement, V.A. Disability, etc.;
  • Must provide a copy of electric bill; and
  • Must provide a copy of current gas bill (if applicable).

Galveston County Community Action Council, Inc

Contact Information:

Texas Information and Referral Network (Dial 2-1-1)

Contact Information:

Gulf Coast Community Services Association

Contact information:

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be a resident of Harris County;
  • Must meet the federal income guidelines for poverty in accordance with their household number; and
  • Participants must have a disconnect notice.

Helpful Resources:

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VOTING RIGHTS/RESTRICTIONS

State primary runoff elections in Texas were scheduled for May 26, 2020.  Are they postponed?

Yes. Governor Abbott delayed all runoff primary elections until July 14, 2020.  https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-postpones-runoff-primary-election-in-response-to-covid-19.

What about local elections that were scheduled for May 2, 2020?

Governor Abbott issued a proclamation allowing political subdivisions to postpone their local elections until November 3, 2020.  The special election for Texas State Senate District 14 (in and around the Austin area), which is to fill the seat being vacated by Senator Kirk Watson, has been postponed to July 14, 2020.  

Can I vote by mail because of COVID-19 concerns? 

That is currently unclear. In Texas, you can vote by mail if you are: 

  • age 65 or older;
  • disabled;
  • ·out of the county on election day and during early voting; or
  • in jail but otherwise eligible.

On April 15, 2020, a court in Travis County, Texas, ruled that COVID-19 is a reason to extend voting by mail to all Texans during the COVID-19 crisis, based on the definition of "disabled" in the Texas Elections Code. However, this order is temporary and likely to be appealed.  

As of April 15, 2020, the Texas Office of the Attorney General had issued guidance that voting by mail based on disability is reserved for Texans with actual illness or medical problem rendering them unable to vote in person and concern about COVID-19 does not qualify you to vote by mail. However, this guidance is not binding and it remains to be seen whether concerns about COVID-19 are sufficient to qualify for an absentee ballot. 

For answers to frequently asked questions, see https://www.votetexas.gov/faq/index.html. 

If live in another state, where can I find information about elections in my state?

The following website from Ballotpedia is a good resource that includes a state-by-state breakdown of voting and election changes in response to COVID-19: https://ballotpedia.org/Political_responses_to_the_coronavirus_(COVID-19)_pandemic,_2020.

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APPENDIX AND SOURCES

General

Mental Health & Wellness 

State Resources

All states

Taxes

Texas Resources

Courts

Education

Evictions

Family Law

Medicaid

Renewing Government Assistance, Licenses, and Other

Stay-at-Home Orders

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”) / Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) Benefits

Voting Rights/Restrictions

Texas Resources -- Austin

Assistance for the Homeless

Business Resources

Evictions

Local Bar Association Information

 Testing

Utility Assistance

Texas Resources -- Dallas

Assistance for the Homeless

Business Resources

Evictions

Local Bar Association Information

 Utility Assistance

Texas Resources -- Houston

Assistance for the Homeless

Business Resources

Evictions

Local Bar Association Information

 Testing

Utility Assistance

 

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Baker Botts is an international law firm of approximately 725 lawyers practicing throughout a network of 14 offices around the globe. Based on our experience and knowledge of our clients' industries, we are recognized as a leading firm in the energy and technology sectors. Since 1840, we have provided creative and effective legal solutions for our clients while demonstrating an unrelenting commitment to excellence. For more information, please visit bakerbotts.com.

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