Organizations encourage those who are struggling due to COVID-19 to apply for assistance

Posted at 6:24 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 20:11:03-05

According to a study from The World Bank, the COVID-19 crisis will throw as many at 115 million people around the world into extreme poverty by 2021.

That means people will be living on less than $1.90 a day.

Most Americans may not see it get that bad, but as more people continue to struggle every day, many do not know where to turn.

Kurt Gronert works on art projects while he waits for his new job to begin in a couple of weeks.

He's had a tough time since losing his old job one, which he says made him "financially comfortable."

"Before COVID, I was doing okay, you know. I mean by no stretch of the imagination was I wealthy, but I mean I was... I was doing okay. My job was paying my bills," he said.

The shutdown threw his employer into chaos, first shutting down, then reopening with lots of changes.

”But there was like at least two weeks out of that first month in March that we didn't have any income, and that's what the first... that's when the problems first started for me,” said Gronert.

Not long after, the job evaporated, and his savings quickly followed. Before he knew it, utility shut-off notices came in, followed by notices of eviction. Food got scarce. He had no idea where to turn.

Texans have more help available to them than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The trouble comes in knowing whether you qualify and where to get help.

More and more, formerly middle class people have needed the same kind of help Gronert did. Social services groups noticed the change.

”Bring Everyone In The Zone has been in existence since 2008. The need is not decreasing. It's different people that need it, but it's, you know, that's... people always will need help,” explained Maureen Jouett, of Bring Everyone In The Zone.

The group helps veterans and their widows the same way other groups help the rest of us.

Before Gronert found these groups, all he had was fading hope.

”Watching the news and you're hoping that something's going to change, and this COVID thing is going to go away, and then I'm done. I'm just gonna get this notice on the door, and I'm just like, you know, I gotta start figuring something out,” he said.

He figured out he had lots of company, but also that help was available. Finding it may help him avoid becoming one of as many as 8 million Americans expected to slip into poverty by this year.

"They sometimes, they have rental assistance and water assistance, and we have rental assistance, water assistance, mortgage assistance and sometimes auto assistance," said Jouett. "So you've seen an increase in the number of people seeking assistance that, you know, formerly were working or had their hours cut because of COVID-19, and then it's harder for the people that are older to get a job because the market's full of younger people that have been laid off or something."

"I was starting a brand new life out here in Killeen and then, it was just the most ridiculous time for me to have chosen to make these life changes. You know, I had no idea," said Gronert.

He didn't know, nor did a lot of us.

Twenty one million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits right now. Six point six percent of all mortgages have fallen into delinquency in 3.3 million homes, doubling in just nine months.

Jouett's Bring Everyone In The Zone specifically helps veterans, but she says others at the Killeen Help Center, like Hill Country Community Action, also offer assistance with things like rent, utilities and other expenses.

”It is somewhat income eligible, but we do take into consideration that last month you might have been working and this month you're not,” she said.

She urges those who need help to put aside your pride and apply.

”They want you to apply because you might not fit this grant but maybe there's another grant,” she explained.

The CARES Act protects homeowners from foreclosure, but they have less than 40 days to apply, unless Congress passes a new relief bill.

Relief Gonert hopes he won't need as he awaits the start date of his new job.

”I can't. I can't really think much farther than that right now. It's just this month. Stay in here. You know, being able to eat,” he said.

As many of us sit down for a scaled down Thanksgiving, many more remain thankful for just the roof over their heads and the assistance that helped them keep it.