El Paso County commissioners on Monday approved contributing $275,000 to a partnership that will provide emergency financial assistance to El Pasoans, with a focus on helping people excluded from earlier pandemic stimulus funds.
The Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Foundation is offering a five-year, $500,000 match for the program, and unnamed national funders are contributing $150,000, organizers said. Other key partners are El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Organization (EPISO)/Border Interfaith and the Family Independence Initiative.
At least 1,000 El Paso County families this year will benefit from cash grants of up to $500, which they can use to cover any expense or financial obligation. The partnership especially wants to reach undocumented and mixed immigration status households that were barred from receiving $1,200 stimulus checks and other COVID-19 relief help approved by Congress.
“They were already in the shadows and now even more in the sense that their poverty became even bigger poverty in the sense of things were not moving,” said Rev. Pablo Matta, a Catholic priest and a leader with EPISO/Border Interfaith, which will assist FII in reaching families in need of assistance. “They work so hard and they’re a big part of the economy of El Paso and all throughout the U.S., but never very much taken into account at all.”
Woody Hunt, the El Paso businessman who chairs his family’s philanthropic foundation, said the $500,000 donation builds off of efforts in the spring to shore up the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger food bank in the early stages of the pandemic.
“And during that time period, I had some discussions with EPISO, which I’ve kind of met with regularly over a very long period of time, and I know they had concerns about those within the community that were at the very bottom end that in some cases didn’t qualify for some of the federal programs that were coming out,” Hunt said.
“FII has a platform, they’ve been doing it for 20 years, they’ve got the technology to do it. They need local partners like an EPISO who can really identify either directly or through the Catholic Church that they work with, those that really have the greatest need,” Hunt said.
Many low-income families in El Paso face cumbersome application processes and a lack of access to computers and other technology to apply for assistance, said Dolores De Avila, a longtime leader with EPISO.
[Photo Credit: Robert Moore/El Paso Matters]
Low-Income El Pasoans Can Get Emergency Financial Help From New Partnership, El Paso Matters [pdf]
EPISO/Border Interfaith hace un llamado a los Senadores John Cornyn y Ted Cruz junto con el congreso para aprobar un paquete de estímulo que protegerá a las familias, la economía y la salud pública. Texto completo aquí.
Senadores Cornyn, Cruz, y miembros de la Cámara:
Como líderes y clérigos de EPISO/Border Interfaith, les pedimos a usted y a sus colegas que aprueben rápidamente un paquete de estímulo que:
• Apoya el seguro de desempleo suplementario de $600 por semana;
• Proporciona $100 mil millones en asistencia para el alquiler para que las familias puedan pagar el alquiler;
• Hace un pago de estímulo a todos los contribuyentes usando un número de seguro social o ITIN ($1,200) y sus hijos ($500);
• Asegura que las escuelas tengan los fondos necesarios para brindar de manera efectiva y segura clases virtuales y presenciales que mantengan seguros a nuestros niños y maestros;
• Aumenta la parte de Medicaid que paga el gobierno federal para liberar ingresos estatales para otros servicios esenciales; y requiere que todos los estados mantengan sus servicios actuales de Medicaid.
Cada día, vemos una creciente devastación forjada en nuestras comunidades por la salud pública y las crisis económicas que resultaron de la pandemia de Coronavirus. Le imploramos que actúe ahora y se asegure audazmente de que las familias tengan un techo sobre su cabeza, agua para lavarse las manos y comida en el estómago. La mejor manera de mantener la economía a flote y salvar vidas es apoyar a nuestras familias.
Líderes y clero de EPISO/Border Interfaith
EPISO/Border Interfaith is calling on Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and members of Congress to enact a stimulus package that will protect families, the economy, and public health.
Senators Cornyn, Cruz, and members of the House:
As leaders and clergy of EPISO/Border Interfaith, we call on you and your colleagues to swiftly pass a stimulus package that:
• Supports the full $600 per week supplemental unemployment insurance;
• Provides $100 Billion in Rent Assistance so families can pay their rent;
• Makes a stimulus payment to all taxpayers using a social security number or ITIN ($1,200) and their children ($500);
• Assures schools have the funds needed to effectively and safely provide both virtual and in-person classes that keep our children and teachers safe;
• Increases the share of Medicaid paid by the federal government to free up state revenues for other essential services; and requires that all states maintain their current Medicaid services.
Each day, we see increasing devastation wrought upon our communities by the public health and economic crises that resulted from the Coronavirus pandemic. We implore you to act now and boldly ensure families have a roof over their head, water to wash their hands, and food in their stomachs. The best way to keep the economy afloat and save lives is to support our families.
Leaders and Clergy of EPISO/Border Interfaith
We are eager for the US Senate to pass substantive legislation to address the health and economic issues caused by the pandemic. Our faiths teach us that each person is beloved by God and worthy of dignity and humanity. We urge members of the Senate and House to move swiftly to adopt a stimulus package that reduces hardships for the most vulnerable and takes steps toward restoring the vitality of our economy.
EPISO/Border Interfaith calls on Senators Cornyn and Cruz and all House members to:
1. Support the full $600 per week federal supplemental unemployment insurance.
The CARES Act provided an additional $600/week to supplement the very low unemployment benefits provided by the State of Texas. The current Senate bill would reduce that supplement to just $200/week. In order to help families cover their current living costs and keep our economy afloat, Congress must continue the $600/week supplement until pandemic has subsided.
2. Provide $100 Billion in rent assistance.
Over 40% of renters in Texas recently said they were unsure if they could pay their August rent. More than half of renters pay more than 30% of their income in rent. Rent assistance programs offered by the City of El Paso and El Paso County have met only a small fraction of the need. The House bill proposes allocating $100 Billion for Rent Assistance, while the current Senate proposal has nothing for rent assistance.
3. Ensure all with Social Security numbers should receive a stimulus check.
The CARES Act provided $1200 in stimulus to adult taxpayers and $500 for each of their minor dependents. If anyone in the home filed taxes using an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number, no one in the home received a stimulus payment. EPISO/Border Interfaith believes that any stimulus targeted toward individuals and families must be provided to all members of the family who have Social Security numbers or who have paid income taxes using an ITIN.
4. Increase funding for public education to make digital learning possible and to safely reopen schools.
Less than one percent of federal pandemic relief has gone to K-12 education. To make distance learning possible, public schools need funding to assure each student has access to broadband internet, a computer and virtual classroom technology. School may need to provide individualized tutors for at-risk students and children with special needs. To safely reopen schools, Congress must fund testing capacity with same-day results for schools; access to masks, distance thermometers and protective equipment; additional staff & expanded facilities to meet CDC guidelines for class sizes and increased bus routes to allow for social distancing while in transit to school.
5. Increase federal share of Medicaid costs while requiring Medicaid maintenance of effort.
If the federal government pays more of the cost of Texas’ Medicaid program, more state funds will remain to cover other essential costs. When the federal government does contribute a greater share of the cost of Texas Medicaid, our state must continue offering the same Medicaid services to our families.
Leaders and Clergy of EPISO/Border Interfaith
The Covid-19 pandemic is precipitating an economic crisis of historic proportions, requiring sacrifices from all Americans to avoid a massive loss of life. Congress must respond with a fiscal policy aimed at avoiding a serious Depression. The Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) urges Congress to deliver an economic stimulus plan that protects those who urgently need help the most: American workers, families, and small businesses on the front lines of this national emergency.
Sign the petition below and call on your congressional members NOW urging them to act boldly and swiftly in support of workers, families and small businesses. Click button below for full text and opportunity to SIGN.
El Paso City Testing Locations: Test Locations
El Paso County Free Testing: County of El Paso Texas - Coronavirus (COVID-19) (epcounty.com)
EL PASOANS FIGHTING HUNGER
Food is available for pickup or drive through at the Mega Distribution Centers. It is open to all in need. For information on the center closest to you, call (915) 298-0353.
El Paso County General Assistance Fund:
Call (915) 546-8150 or Visit www.epcounty.com/famcom/generalassistance.htm
Project BRAVO: Project BRAVO is no longer accepting applications for 2020. You may apply for 2021 services effective January 4, 2021.
Visit www.projectbravo.org/covid19resources for more information on the 2021 Application
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
Andrea Tirres, daughter of EPISO/Border Interfaith leader Dan Tirres, is working on a project to make our community safer in dealing with COVID-19. Our organization supports being careful about social distancing, wearing a mask, and limiting social gatherings. Please read the pledge and forward as you deem appropriate to friends and family.
Visit https://www.change.org/BreakCovid915 to sign & share the COVID 915 Pledge
Persons unable to independently board a regular bus or have a disability that prevents them from boarding are eligible but must first qualify.
You must call and ask for an application for the Sun Metro Lift at (915)-212-3004.
When you call and feel that you will need assistance filling out the application, please request assistance by requesting a phone interview.
Once you qualify, to schedule your appointments call (915) 212-0100 a day before your appointment.
RELIGIOUS SERVICES HAVE MOVED TO TV & THE WEB:
The Catholic Diocese of El Paso has services streaming on its Facebook page:
Televised Catholic Mass: