Organization assists Port Arthur, surrounding residents suffering from COVID losses with housing needs

Published 12:38 am Saturday, November 12, 2022

Legacy Community Development Corporation is pushing to remind Port Arthur and surrounding residents of various homeowners assistance programs, in particular one that helps those financially impacted by the pandemic.

“Texas homeowners financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic after January 21, 2020, now have access to local, in-person support from the Texas Homeowner Association Fund,” said Kirkni Richardson with Legacy CDC.

“(The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs) is able to provide homeowners one-on-one personalized help from trained staff who live in or near the communities.”

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In addition to support for homeowners, the organization, which is based in Port Arthur, offers rental utility assistance.

The program, Richardson said, has nearly $500 million statewide to help Texans struggling with past-due mortgage payments, overdue property taxes/insurance, and other needs.

Each household member is eligible to receive up to $65,000 in assistance.

Eligibility includes financial hardship after January 21, 2020, due to COVID-19, a household income at or below 100 percent of the area or U.S. median income, whichever is greater.

“Homeowners can get help paying past due bills plus up to three months of future payments for electricity, natural gas, propane water and waterway services,” Richardson said. “If approved, payments will be made directly to the utility vendors in the form of one lump sum.”

Requirements also specify the past-due bills be within the last 45 days from application for assistance, and that the person seeking help owns the residence to which the utility bill is sent.

In addition, the total of past due fees and three months of future payments must be at or under $10,000.

“I spoke with Ms. (Vivian) Ballou, who is the CEO of Legacy,” said Mayor Thurman Bartie. “There are programs that the citizens in Port Arthur need to be made aware of that they have not been aware of.”