Harris County ups COVID-19 Emergency Direct Assistance fund to $60M, funds Office of the Elections Administrator
Harris County Commissioners Court authorized funds to establish the Office of the Elections Administrator and infused an additional $20 million into the Harris County COVID-19 Emergency Direct Assistance fund during a special meeting Nov. 17. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, the Harris County Elections Commission selected Isabel Longoria as the final candidate for the county's new elections administrator position Oct. 30. The longtime community organizer and current special adviser on voting rights to County Clerk Chris Hollins will be tasked with setting polling locations, counting ballots and voter registration—duties previously split between the county clerk and tax-assessor collector.
The court approved a public official bond for the elections administrator, Longoria, effective Nov. 18, and authorized the transferal of budget funds, staff and equipment from the county clerk and tax assessor-collector to the Office of the Elections Administrator. According to county officials, the elections administrator will receive an annual salary of $190,000, as was decided upon by the Harris County Elections Commission.
While Precinct 4 Commissioners Jack Cagle voted in favor of both items, he reiterated that he was still not in favor of the creation of the new office. Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack voted against both measures.
The court also unanimously adopted the official canvass for all votes cased in the Nov. 3 general and special elections during the Nov. 17 meeting.
Additionally, another 17,000 households are expected to receive assistance through the Harris County COVID-19 Emergency Direct Assistance Fund, following the court's unanimous authorization of an additional infusion of $20,000.
As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, Harris County Commissioners Court initially established the $40 million fund Oct. 28 with the goal of helping 33,333 families with one-time payments of up to $1,200. The funds were to be used for urgent needs, including rent, food, utilities, health care, child care and transportation.
Managed by the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, the fund opened to residents Nov. 2-6 and was distributed through a random selection process as opposed to on a first-come, first-served basis, and all of the funding given out through the program is expected to be reimbursed with funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
To be eligible for funds, applicants either had to have one household member enrolled in a public assistance program or to have a total household income that is less than 60% of the area median income as measured by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Applicants were also required to prove pandemic-related hardship.
Details on how and when residents will be able to apply for the additional $20 million in assistance funds are forthcoming.