We were able to hear from Luke, a bartender who has searched for jobs since service industry work dried up in the spring of 2020. Because of his location, it was hard for him to qualify for rental relief.
My name is Luke and I am a bartender who was furloughed during the month of March because of COVID-19. From then until now, I’ve tried applying for all sorts of work, from retail clerk to auto parts delivery driver. I even applied for and got a few payments of mutual aid relief for restaurant industry workers, but they were no more than $500 each and were used up quickly. My unemployment ran out in July and I still couldn’t find work.
Around November, my landlord started texting me about rent, saying that I had better get ANY job and start paying whatever rent I could as soon as possible. I started to fear the worst so I started researching COVID-19 related rental relief programs in Galveston County where I live. But navigating the rental relief process has been an absolute nightmare because I don’t live in a major Texas county.
My hunt for rental relief didn’t turn up much. There was one Galveston City rental relief program that closed on August 19, 2020, so I had missed the deadline. And even though I live near Houston, I don’t qualify for Harris County aid. With the help of Texas Housers Staff, we called many organizations including the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, and we either found out I didn’t qualify based on my location outside of Galveston City, or our phone calls were never returned.
Navigating this rental relief process has been eye-opening and makes me want to get into politics in order to hold existing programs accountable and accessible to all. I’m sure there are many others out there who are in need, wondering why our location determines whether we get access to federal relief dollars.