Let's Keep The Momentum...in Houston & Beyond!

As the government re-opens, we still have donations to offer

As federal workers return to work and can come to expect a paycheck soon, we understand that there is still the need to recover from over a month of financial uncertainty. While we are no longer accepting requests for assistance vouchers, we have items to distribute at the office of Boulevard Realty through Sunday February 2nd from 10 AM to 5 PM. During this time, we will also continue to accept donations and ensure they get in the hands of anyone in need.

Donations to the Furloughed Workers Relief Fund at Helping Hands are tax-deductible and directly distributed to affected federal workers who are still recovering financially with proof of employment.

How CAn You Help?

  • Donate items that any individual or family can use at a time of financial difficulty (non-perishable food, cleaning and other hygiene items, diapers and baby items).

  • Email us at help@houstonreliefhub.org with tips and resources we can share or any other way you can help.

How To Get Help

  • Utilize the services posted below. Now that the shutdown is over, many of these resources will taper off. Please contact the provider directly to verify.

  • Applying for Unemployment Benefits after a Federal Government Shutdown

    • The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) considers federal workers affected by the government shutdown to be “laid off” from their jobs. If you are affected by the government shutdown, you can apply for benefits as soon as the shutdown occurs. Apply at ui.texasworkforce.org 24 hours a day. If you do not have Internet access, call a Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday to speak with a customer service representative. For more information on the federal government shutdown, see Applying for Unemployment Benefits after a Federal Government Shutdown

    • Claim Requirements

      If you worked as a federal employee during your base period as defined in Eligibility & Benefit Amounts, you need to estimate your federal wages when you apply for unemployment benefits. The federal government does not report wages to TWC each quarter as other employers do, so we must get wage information from you before we can calculate your benefit amounts.

      Most people who worked for the federal government can use federal wages to establish their benefit amounts.

      • If you worked as a federal civilian employee, you can use federal wages on your claim.

      • If you worked as a contract worker, and received an IRS Form 1099 instead of a W-2, you may not be able to use those wages on your claim. The federal agency you worked for will tell us whether the work you did was considered federal civilian employment and can be used for unemployment claim purposes.

      Apply for benefits in one of two ways:

  • Now that the shutdown is over, we are no longer accepting voucher applications. We continue to process the many applications we already received and will respond soon with more information.

Shutdown Assistance Resources

  • The YMCA of Greater Houston - As an organization, the YMCA is called to serve our communities, and during this difficult and uncertain time, we want to do what we can to support YOU. Our Federal Employee Assistance Program is designed to provide you and your family with a place to exercise, opportunities to spend time together and provide some necessary stress relief. 

    Through this program, the YMCA of Greater Houston is offering a complimentary 60-day membership pass to any federal employee impacted by the government shutdown. Join our YMCA family and: 

    • Grab a cup of coffee in the lobby

    • Get a workout to keep you healthy

    • Join a group exercise class

    • Spend time with the kids in the pool

    • Enjoy social time with others in the community

    This pass can be activated at any of our 26 Houston area locations and is valid through April 30, 2019. A valid government ID is required. 

Resources from afge.org:

Financial Services

  • City of Houston Water Bill Grace Period: Federal workers who pay City of Houston water bills should call 713-371-1400 to receive a 30-day extension of their payment deadline without penalties or interest charges.

  • CenterPoint Energy offers: payment extensions (extending due dates); payment arrangements (for example, payment of past due amounts over a four or five month period); and energy assistance programs for low income customers. CenterPoint’s customer service representatives are ready to help should a federal employee on furlough reach out to them.

  • Comcast: "We appreciate the work that our nation’s government employees do and are here to support them. We want them to stay connected during the government shutdown and are offering flexible payment options by pushing out billing due dates and waiving fees. Our care teams are available to help assist our customers on the phone, in retail stores and across social channels to ensure that they get the support and flexibility they need."

  • 24 Hour Notary Houston: "I would like to offer my mobile notary services for impacted government employees who may require notary services such as a hardship loan request, home or auto loan modification, and other related documents. Government ID required and proof of zero pay.”

  • METRO Houston: "Federal workers affected by the partial government shutdown can ride METRO free until the government reopens. Just show the operator your government ID."

  • The Houston Business Journal reports that BBVA Compass Bank and Amegy Bank are offering to waive fees and other financial assistance

  • Verizon is waiving late fees and agent-assist fees

  • Ally Financial: The company announced January 18th that it had expanded its assistance program to “provide aid and resources for customers affected by the partial U.S. government shutdown.” Based on individual needs, expanded benefits may include: refunds of transaction fees or of non-sufficient funds fees, CD early withdrawal penalty waivers, expedited check fee waivers, wire fee waivers, late charge waivers and payment extensions. Contact customer care at 877-247-2559, through chat or email to discuss options.

  • Bank of America: The bank’s Client Assistance Program is offering personalized financial assistance and can be reached at 844-219-0690

  • Better Mortgage: The digital mortgage lender announced in a news release that it has launched a mortgage refinance program called Shutdown Relief Emergency Refi that “allows federal employees to tap into their home equity for living expenses and delays loan payments for impacted federal government employees for up to 30 days after the end of the furlough.” Learn more at www.better.com/shutdownrelief.

  • Chase: The bank announced its efforts to help its customers who are U.S. government employees on Dec. 22 and is encouraging customers to call a special care line at 888-356-0023 to discuss available hardship programs. The help also is available for customers who do business with a federal agency that is also affected, Chase said in a statement.

  • Congressional Federal Credit Union: Furloughed employees and those working without pay can apply for the “Relief Line of Credit” with an interest-free rate over 60 days

  • Discover: Impacted federal workers who are Discover cardmembers or have a loan with Discover Bank may be eligible for assistance such as skipping a payment and having late fees and interest charges reversed if they miss a payment because of the shutdown. To request assistance, call 800-347-2683.

  • FedChoice: The Federal Credit Union has several options listed in its Furlough Center

  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs: Eligible government employees impacted by the temporary government shutdown may be eligible for a payment deferral on their Marcus loan and savings customers may be eligible to have early withdrawal penalties waived. For request assistance and to discuss options, call 844-627-2876.

  • Navy Federal Credit Union: Impacted union members who have direct deposit of their government pay may be eligible for interest-free loans. Government contractors may be eligible if their direct deposit is received directly from the federal government and will be impacted by a government shutdown.

  • U.S. Bank: The bank created a new, low-rate quick loan for federal employees affected by the shutdown. It is available to customers with any U.S. Bank product, including mortgage, auto loans or U.S. Bank credit cards, the company announced. The designated federal government shutdown line is 877-760-6046.

  • U.S. Employees Credit Union: Impacted union members who have direct deposit of their government pay may be eligible for interest-free loans. According to its website, the Government Shutdown Loan is to be “repaid in 60 days or when the government processes back pay, whichever is sooner.”

  • Wells Fargo: The bank says it “will work with individuals and business banking customers whose income is disrupted as a result of the shutdown.” Customers should call 1-800-TO-WELLS, or the number on their credit card, debit card or statement for assistance, or visit any Wells Fargo branch. Mortgage, loan, and credit customers may qualify for forbearance or other payment assistance programs based on their individual circumstances, the company posted on its website.

  • In order to help, many companies are extending offers big and small to help furloughed workers while the government leaves them hanging. Some major corporations, for example, are offering extended time for federal workers to pay their bills. Cellphone companies like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, for example, have all said they will waive late fees for workers impacted by the shutdown, and will work with them on payment plans. Banks like Chase, Citi, American Express, and Capital One are giving similar offers too.

Food Pantries & Restaurants

  • After Shutdown ends, Whataburger continues to offer free breakfast: Click here

  • Houston Food Bank: Find Nearest Food Pantry

  • Houston Food Bank will also set up for distribution at Green House International Church (200 W Greens Rd, Houston, TX 77067) on Thursday 1/24 and Wednesday 1/30 from 10 AM to 3 PM.

  • West Houston Assistance Ministries: West Houston Assistance Ministries (WHAM) is providing immediate assistance with food for federal employees whose paychecks are on hold and who are experiencing financial crisis due to the partial government shutdown. “WHAM is here to help, and we are honored to serve those in our community who have been affected by this situation,” said Mark Brown, WHAM CEO. Affected individuals and families can receive groceries from WHAM’s food pantry at 10501 Meadowglen Lane, Houston, TX 77042, Monday-Friday from 10am to 2pm. Proof of government employment or copy of last paycheck will be required for assistance. Please call 713-977-9942 for further information.

  • Crossbridge Christian Church: We have an open pantry every Sunday at 11:50 a.m, or so at the far end of the complex. Usually each person gets two grocery plastic bags, sometimes more and can shop from what’s on the tables. Show an ID and the dollar a person will be waived. For diapers, they would need to contact me, Bill at 281-961-1659 and we can meet at the gym, portico.

  • Chef's Table Charities is offering cash, gift cards and supplies: Apply Here

  • ABC 13’s Ongoing List: Follow List Here

  • Houston Food Finder’s Ongoing List: Follow List Here

  • Click2Houston’s Ongoing List: Follow List Here

  • Houstonia Magazine’s Ongoing List: Follow List Here

  • Houston Chronicle’s Ongoing List: Follow List Here

Household Items

  • Texas Diaper Bank is offering six months of supplies such as diapers, wipes and feminine hygiene products as well as classes to furloughed workers who sign up before Feb. 1 at its website.

  • Lily’s Toy Box: A non-profit founded by a local nine-year-old. She provides new toys to kids going through a difficult time and would love to send a toy to any child that is having their birthday during the shutdown. Visit lilystoybox.com to apply.

Specialized Assistance

  • Free Film Screening Tickets to the Wild & Scenic Film Festival: Pre-register using this link and please bring your federal workplace ID with you to the screening for verification.

  • South by South Vets: Veterinarian in Houston offering no or low cost services for government employees for their animals in need.

  • 713-Fix-My-AC: We are a small heating and air conditioning company in Houston. We know times are tough and so is the weather. If there is any families we can help out with repairs please contact us at 713 FIX-MY-AC.

  • Victoria Harrison, Therapist: “I can offer stress management and psychotherapy at no charge during this time for 3 or 4 people. My clinical website is www.victoriaharrison.org.”

  • Habitat for Horses (409-935-0277): Will provide hay for horses owned by government workers in need. Must call office at 409-935-0277 and schedule pick-up time. Need to show Federal ID. Two square bales/horse, max 6 square bales. Pick-up location in Alvin.

  • AirBnB: Airbnb’s new program, “A Night on Us“, will give up to $110 extra to any federal worker who hosts an Airbnb Experience or has guests for three nights in their home between Dec. 18, 2018 and March 18. the application for “A Night on Us” is at this link.