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During these difficult and trying times, relief will be available for anyone directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19 in Harris County. Whether someone has been diagnosed themselves or whether they’ve experienced financial stress because of measures taken by officials that have caused financial disruption, help is on the way.

Water

Anyone who gets their water from the city of Houston, no one with overdue water bills will have their service disconnected, according to an order from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. Attempts to do the same in Harris County are ongoing and updates will be given once they are available. More information is located at: http://www.houstontx.gov/mayor/press/2020/water-service-disconnections-suspended.html

Gas and Electric Service

In addition, CenterPoint Energy has announced that during this emergency, no one will lose their gas service, either. In addition, the company says, “during this time, the company is reassuring its customers that comprehensive plans and processes are in place to help ensure safe, reliable energy delivery to electricity customers across greater Houston… and (across) Texas. See more at: https://www.centerpointenergy.com/en-us/corporate/about-us/news/1320#sthash.3gB9M6Md.dpuf

The Texas Public Utilities Commission is encouraging retail electric providers to help consumers affected by coronavirus. Already, TXU Energy has said it will waive late fees and extend payment due dates to customers facing money problems from the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak. Details about other companies

Internet/Phone

Comcast/Xfinity is offering free access to WiFi hotspots throughout the county, including non-subscribers. AT&T is suspending the termination of wireless, home phone or broadband service when customers can't pay their bills because of Coronavirus disruptions. The company is also waiving related late fees. Like Comcast, AT&T is also providing free access to its public WiFi hot spots. The company also said its consumer home internet wireline customers and fixed wireless internet customers would receive unlimited data.

Housing Evictions and Foreclosures

For people living in City of Houston Public Housing, there is a moratorium on evictions, until further notice. In Harris County Commissioners Court, there was a discussion over whether Judge Hidalgo could issue an executive order to halt evictions and foreclosures for a period of time in the county, however, as of this writing, no action has been taken.

State and Federal Actions

In the State of Texas, Governor Abbott has announced that the state has waived STAAR test requirements for this school year.  The state will also allow expired ID’s and drivers licenses to remain valid for at least 60 days after the end of the current state disaster declaration.

Finally, as the Federal Government looks to pass a relief bill, the Small Business Administration (SBA) soon expects to be able to provide Texas small businesses with working capital loans. Now that the state has declared a disaster in Texas, loans will be made available that would provide vital economic support to small businesses. The loans serve to help Texas businesses overcome any temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

Small Business support 

The SBA will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. To learn more visit https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

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