Victoria’s COVID-19 Relief Fund is growing but remains below the community’s unmet needs, officials said during their weekly call Friday.

The fund is up to $93,200, said Brooke Garcia, executive director of Victoria County United Way, during a conference call of the Golden Crescent Community Organizations Active in Disaster.

The network of organizations reviewed applications from nonprofits Friday to distribute $18,000. The committee will continue reviewing nonprofit applications and distributing funding on a weekly basis. Another $18,00 is earmarked for rental assistance for those whose jobs have been impacted by COVID-19 but did not qualify for other assistance.

So far, 28 people have received assistance, and half the money remains. In the first few days after the application process opened, the disaster group received more than 500 applications for rental assistance.

Additionally, the COVID-19 Relief Fund received a $5,000 grant from CenterPoint Energy.

Ginny Stafford with Mid-Coast Family Services said they are receiving many calls on the organization’s hotline about filing unemployment and preventing eviction. The organization is trying to repurpose some money from housing the homeless to rental assistance The organization also is staying connected with at-risk youth who were involved with youth department services before the pandemic.

Christ’s Kitchen continues to feed more than 700 people each day. The nonprofit is sending many people with questions about utility and rental assistance through the appropriate channels, said Trish Hastings with Christ’s Kitchen.

“I’m concerned that landlords in Victoria don’t know about the non-eviction policy,” Hastings said.

Also, several so-called apartment complexes are operating as hotels by charging weekly rent and locking people out, Hastings said.

“Most of the needs are being met by community members, which is absolutely awesome and makes me speechless, which is hard to do,” Hastings said.

The community has donated to-go plates and bottled water, but sanitizer for the staff is running low. There is a big demand for laundry vouchers and $5 H-E-B gift cards for gasoline, Hastings said. Donations may be made at Christ’s Kitchen between the hours of 7 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Dan Williams-Capone, director of Meals on Wheels, said the agency delivered 342 Easter baskets with the meals Monday. Shannon Longoria with the Texas General Land Office helped coordinate the baskets. Meals on Wheels has moved from daily to weekly deliveries of one hot meal while the others are frozen for the remainder of the week.

Operation Device Dump but no Jesus Junk launched to collect old but working iPhones, iPads, tablets and laptops for students in need of connectivity for distance learning. They should be digitally wiped clean, placed inside Ziploc or garbage bags, and delivered to one of two locations. The Victoria Long-Term Recovery Group is collecting them from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. weekdays at its warehouse at 304 E. Santa Rosa St. Also, Victoria Communication Services AT&T Store is collecting the devices at 105 Twin Fountains Drive from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.

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Elena Anita Watts covers arts, culture and entertainment for the Victoria Advocate. 

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