Community Resources: How To Get Help
As the new COVID-19 Orders on community gatherings, restaurants and bars are implemented, Austin-Travis County are highlighting the range of services provided by public sector and community and economic development partners to help people in the service, events, music and other industries who are likely to be impacted most by the restrictions.
- At-Home Education and Entertainment Resources
Virtual Enrichment from Parks and Recreation Department
The Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) is offering a variety of online recreation and cultural experiences including learning, exercise, and family activities. Visit www.austintexas.gov/parkprograms.
Austin Public Library Virtual Library
Austin Public Library has a “Virtual Library” where you can read, listen, watch on your computer or mobile device 24/7 when you download or stream eBooks, eAudiobooks, magazines, movies and music. For more information, visit library.austintexas.gov/virtual.
Austin ISD Learning-At-Home
Austin ISD Learning-At-Home provides optional resources to include a range of ideas for online and offline activities that student can work on at home independently, with family members, or with other adults. Additional resources will be added, please check back periodically. For access, visit https://sites.google.com/austinisd.org/aisd-learning-at-home
UT Biodiversity Center
UT Biodiversity Center has a live falcon camera to observe the UT Tower, which is home to a female Peregrine Falcon, nicknamed “Tower Girl.” For more information, visit biodiversity.utexas.edu/resources/falcon-cam.
Google Arts & Culture
Google Arts & Culture has a virtual collection available to explore iconic locations in 3D, including iconic museums and monuments. For more information, visit artsandculture.google.com/project/openheritage.
Monterrey Bay Aquarium
Monterrey Bay Aquarium has ten live webcams to watch various ocean experiences, including coral reefs, jellyfish, and penguins. For more information, visit montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams.
Smithsonian National Zoo
Smithsonian National Zoo has four live webcams to watch their naked mole rats, lions, giant pandas, and elephants. For more information, visit nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has virtual tours available of their current exhibits. For more information, visit naturalhistory.si.edu/visit/virtual-tour/current-exhibits
Smithsonian Institute has online resources for kids. For more information, visit www.si.edu/kids.
Scholastic is offering at-home learning resources for children. For more information, visit classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html.
- Childcare Assistance
Finding Child Care During COVID-19
If you need help locating a provider that is open and accepting children of essential employees, you can visit the Frontline Child Care Availability Portal. This website will allow parents who are essential workers to search for available child care near their home or work, and it will display a map of licensed child care centers, licensed homes, and registered homes. It will show each facility’s operating hours, along with the number of open seats for each age group at the facility.
Child care subsidies for essential workers
To help make child care more accessible during this crisis, the income threshold for child care subsidies has been expanded for COVID-19 essential workers to approximately 150 percent of the state’s median income (SMI). This is approximately $118,000 annually or $9,800 monthly or less for a family of four.
Essential workers and businesses include (but may not be limited to):
- Pharmacy and health care workers
- First responders
- Critical local and state government staff
- Mail and delivery service staff
- Nursing home, child care, home health care, and other direct care providers
- Grocery store staff
- Gas station staff
- Bank staff
- Restaurant (with drive-through and delivery) staff
- Military personnel
- Any other workers deemed essential by TWC or Boards
If you are an essential employee for whom child care is absolutely necessary, please visit Workforce Solutions resources for providers and parents. There you can review and complete the eligibility form to determine if you are potentially eligible for financial assistance. You will then be contact by an eligibility specialist from Workforce Solutions Capital Area to determine if you qualify for financial assistance, and if funds are currently available.
Call 2-1-1 for COVID-19 questions and social services and basic needs resources for individuals, staff and families.
For COVID-19 related early childhood resources in Austin, visit the Success by 6 portal.
- Connect to Community Support
The City of Austin has launched a How to Help online hub to connect local nonprofit, faith-based, and government programs with potential donors and volunteers.
If you are part of an organization that needs help meeting needs created or complicated by COVID-19, go to the How to Help User Guide to learn more about participating in the campaign.
If you are a community member who wants to help, visit https://howtohelpaustin.givepulse.com/.
- Disaster & Emergency Scams Prevention
When a natural or man-made emergency strikes, Texans generally support each other to overcome adversity. But unscrupulous individuals will try to take advantage of tragedy. Be on the lookout for price gouging, flood-damaged vehicles and other post-emergency scams that may arise. To learn more or report fraud contact Consumer Protection at the State of Texas Attorney General's Office.
- Food Assistance
Get help buying food while school is closed. Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) is a program for families with children who were eligible for free or reduced-price school meals during the 2019-2020 school year.
More information about the program is available online from Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC).
General information about the program and criteria is available in English (PDF), Spanish (PDF), Simplified Chinese (PDF), Traditional Chinese (PDF), Korean (PDF), Burmese (PDF), Vietnamese (PDF), Arabic (PDF), Urdu (PDF).
Local food pantries and school districts are providing emergency food access in our community. If you are in need of food assistance, please call 211 or visit Connect ATX.
Organizations providing emergency food assistance to people in need can get connected with volunteers and other resources using the ATX Emergency Food Systems Exchange.
- General Information about Services
Austin 2-1-1 is a free social service hotline available 24 hours a day.
Austin 3-1-1 is a resource to help answer all general questions for more assistance.
Aunt Bertha is a website that matches qualified individuals with food, housing, transit, health/medical, education, and legal help.
- Homeless Resources
For more information, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/Homelessness.
At this time, the City of Austin is continuing to provide services for people experiencing homelessness. HUD is providing the City additional guidelines to be able to put some measures in place at our emergency shelters as well as any kind of short-term places where people are going through transitional housing.
CDC provided Interim Guidance for Homeless Shelters for which Austin-Travis County are complying.
- Housing Needs
Neighborhood Housing and Community Development (NHCD) offers information and referrals to assist COVID-19 impacted community members with immediate housing assistance, including:
Information on Avoiding Eviction or Preventing Displacement: Lists resources for legal counseling, alternative housing, tenant relocation assistance, and supportive resources.
Help Paying Rent/Emergency Financial Assistance: Makes available a listing of local programs that provide temporary, emergency financial assistance in the form of grants or loans for utilities, rental expenses and mortgage payments.
Help for Homeowners, Mortgage Assistance and Property Taxes: Offers guidance and information on refinancing or modifying mortgage loans, lowering payments, or other solutions to avoid foreclosure. Also, provides property owners on setting up (or renegotiating) a payment plan for property taxes, or to learn more about available programs, such as homestead exemptions and property tax deferrals for those age 65 and older, persons with disabilities, and veterans.
- Internet and Digital Literacy Resources
For more information, visit https://cityofaustin.gitbook.io/decatx/deca-covid-19-community-resources.
This resource list serves to share City & Partner Digital Inclusion information for the Austin community amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic. The City’s Digital Empowerment Community of Austin COVID-19 Community Resource list is organized into four categories: General Resources, Internet Service Provider Information, Computer Access, and Using the Internet and Online Learning Resources.
- Mental Health Services
Integral Care’s Psychiatric Emergency Services Update:
Starting Tuesday, March 24th, Integral Care’s Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) will provide all visits by telephone and telehealth. Face-to-face visits will be by appointment only as needed. PES provides urgent mental health care. PES is not accepting walk-in visits at this time. Please call 512-472-4357 for telephone and telehealth services. Press 1 for English, then 1 to speak to our staff. Hours: Monday – Friday, 8am to 10pm; Saturday, Sunday and Holidays, 10am to 8pm
Adult & Children Mental Health Services Update:
Most Integral Care adult and child mental health services are now being provided by telephone or telehealth. Please call 512-472-4357 for telephone and telehealth services. Press 1 for English, then 4 to speak to our staff. Hours: Monday – Friday, 8am to 5pm
24/7 Crisis Helpline:
Our 24/7 Crisis Helpline continues to provide immediate support to people experiencing a mental health crisis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For help, please call 512-472-4357. Press 1 for English, then 1 for crisis support.
- Please call 512-472-4357 for telephone and telehealth services. Press 1 for English, then 1 to speak to our staff.
- Hours: Monday – Friday, 8am to 10pm; Saturday, Sunday and Holidays, 10am to 8pm
Integral Care’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Team Update:
Starting Tuesday, March 24th, Integral Care’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (MCOT) will provide all visits via telephone and telehealth with face-to-face visits by appointment only as needed. MCOT provides mental health crisis care in the community.
- Relief In a State of Emergency (RISE) Funds
Austin City Council passed resolution #20200409-81 to allocate $15 million to provide immediate direct services and assistance to people suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19. Austin Public Health is partnering with social services agencies to ensure funds are distributed equitably and help vulnerable Austinites impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. social services providers can go to www.AustinTexas.gov/RISE to apply to distribute funds. Organizations need to be a registered vendor with the City of Austin and submit applications through PartnerGrants to be considered for the funds.
- Report COVID-19 Racism
Across the United States, there has been a spike in incidences of racial harassment and violence (hate-crimes) related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to report and track cases of racial harassment and violence, a coalition of Austin-Travis County organizations has developed a survey.
This survey aligns with a national one used to track cases across the country. Please share this survey widely. The coalition will follow-up on all reported incidences, and it will seek to provide support to those who need it.
For more information and to view the survey, visit www.austintexas.gov/page/report-covid-19-racism
- Resources for Older Adults and Caregivers
The Aging Services Council of Central Texas have prepared a list of COVID-19 related resources for older adults. Visit the website for a list of resources or call the Aging and Disabilities Resource Center at 855.937.2372.
- Resources for Veterans
US Department of Veterans’ Affairs COVID-19 Response
VA has implemented an aggressive public health response to protect and care for Veterans in the face of this emerging health risk.
Military Veteran Peer Network
The Military Veteran Peer Network (MVPN) is a group of veterans and veteran family members committed to supporting active and former service members by offering mentorship and guidance, as well as help accessing the services and resources available to veterans. They are offering online services, meetings, and community gatherings.
The Samaritan Center
During COVID-19, Hope for Heroes is providing virtual counseling and integrative medicine to service members, veterans, and their families suffering from service-related trauma. Hope for Heroes therapists are selected for their extensive military and military family experience, clinical expertise with PTSD and TBI, and competency with the military culture.
Central Texas Veterans Health Care System
The Central Texas Veterans Health Care System (CTVHCS) has activated VA’s emergency management coordination cell (EMCC), and have started clinical screenings at all VA facilities. VA health facilities have been testing Veterans who meet the testing criteria provided by the CDC. There’s no charge for testing.
The Veteran Spouse Network
An online and in-person forum for veteran spouses throughout Texas to become engaged in defining resources and programming for themselves and their families. Today, the VSN has grown to a network of over 800 spouses across Texas.
Your Recovery is Important: Virtual Recovery Resources
This guide from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shares links to the many organizations providing virtual recovery services. It includes everything from virtual 12-step meetings to recovery-related chat rooms, from links to one-on-one counseling services to information on how to host a meeting.
Texas Veterans’ App
For Android devices | For Apple devices
This free, simple app is for service members, veterans, their families and any Texan who supports our military and veterans. Use it as a way to learn more about local, state, and national resources available for SMVF in the Lone Star State.
Integral Care Veteran, Military, and Veteran Services
Integral Care has moved all services to telehealth. Not all veterans and their family members qualify for VA services. Any and all qualify for Integral Health services. A referral from the VA is not necessary, and services are available regardless of ability to pay and can be provided in many languages.
24 Hour Chaplain Services
Central Texas Veterans Health Care System. All faiths and denominations are welcome to call: (254) 743-2849 or (254) 743-0991
WoVeN Women Veterans Network
WoVeN is now offering virtual peer support groups during COVID-19. These meet for 90 minutes at a time every week for two months. To help group members share and reflect on many different aspects of their life, each group meeting focuses on a new theme.
- Sexual Health Resources
HIV and STI Testing, Treatment and PrEP Services in Austin
Austin Public Health and local organizations continue to provide essential sexual health services at this time. Services provided may change as the situation develops. As of March 30, the following resources are available:
- Austin Public Health’s Sexual Health Clinic, 15 Waller Street, is currently providing STI treatment and PrEP. If you are experiencing an STI symptom, call 512-972-5430 for screening and an appointment. Routine HIV/STI screening is suspended until further notice. Call 512-972-5580 for free condom delivery.
- KIND Clinic is offering all their usual services. Free services include STI testing and treatment, HIV testing and care, PrEP, PEP, and gender-affirming care. All initial appointments will be virtual with in-person follow up as needed. Call 1-833-937-5463 for an appointment. More info: kindclinic.org.
- Vivent Health (AIDS Services of Austin) is offering free at-home HIV testing kits and condom delivery services available. Call 512-600-8378 or visit CDNStore.orgfor more info. All in-person HIV & STI testing and treatment is suspended until further notice.
- Center for Health Empowerment (CHE) will continue to provide free sexual health services. Services include PrEP services, HIV and STI testing and STI treatment. Call 512-840-1273 for screening and appointments.
- ASH+Well will continue to provide free sexual health services. Services include HIV/STI testing and treatment, PrEP and PEP. Call 512-467-0088 for screening and appointments.
All Austinites should stay home and minimize contact with others to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Here are some tips for sex and intimacy during COVID-19:
- Tip #1 Know how COVID-19 spreads.
- Tip #2 Have fun at a distance.
- Tip #3 Limit sexual partners.
- Tip #4 Practice safe sex.
- Tip #5 Know when to skip sex.
- Tip #6 Get creative for date night.
- Utility Services
The City of Austin has taken steps to ensure customers have uninterrupted access to utility services. Immediate assistance is available to all our customers.
Customers experiencing hardships due to COVID-19 can get immediate utility bill relief. Apply now at austinbillhelp.com. Austin Energy, which manages customer care and billing for all City of Austin utilities, also offers several programs that help customers stay on track with their utility bills:
Deferred payment plan: This will ensure the customer receives uninterrupted utility services as they work with utility representatives to develop a long-term plan that meets their financial needs. Customer Assistance Programs: Limited income customers and medically vulnerable customers may receive assistance for immediate and lasting utility bill relief for customers.
The following companies have temporarily suspended natural gas service disconnections due to non-payment for Coronavirus situation:
Both City of Austin Utilities Payment Centers are closed as of March 18. Click here to learn more about other ways customers can pay their utility bill.
Residential and commercial customers can contact the Customer Care Contact Center at 512-494-9400 with any questions.
Neighborhood Services is providing rent and utility assistance. The individual neighborhood centers remain closed to the public. Clients can call 512-972-5780 Monday – Friday 8 am – 12pm and 1pm – 4:30 pm. For assistance with emergency food delivery service call 512-972-5133.
- Workforce & Business Resources
Texas Workforce Commission is where individuals can apply for unemployment benefits, including a tutorial to guide you through the process.
Small businesses and nonprofits in Travis County can apply for an U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Assistance Loan, which provides loans up to $2 million for fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact.
Small businesses and nonprofits can also apply for the Paycheck Protection Program at any lending institution that is approved to participate in the program. You can call your bank or find SBA-approved lenders in your area through SBA’s online lender match tool. You can call your local Small Business Development Center or Women’s Business Center and they will provide free assistance and guide you to lender.
Visit www.atxrecovers.com for the latest updates and resources directly in support of recovery efforts for Austin businesses, entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizations.
Visit the Economic Development Department’s Small Business Resource Directory and filter by “Disaster Relief” to find immediate support including a list government and community resources for small businesses and non-profits impacted by COVID-19.
There are resources in multiple languages that you can print and share. Help amplify the message of the City of Austin and Travis County to stop the spread of COVID-19. This includes mandatory signage that is required for posting at critical infrastructure and essential business places.
The Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN) is partnering with Austin Public Health (APH) and the City's Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) to collect personal protective equipment from the public. APH and HSEM will distribute the donated supplies based on need. Austinites are encouraged to donate the following supplies:
- Hand Sanitizer (of all sizes)
- Antibacterial Soap
- N95 Masks(NEW)
- Surgical Masks(NEW)
- Industrial Masks (N-95 or Dust)
- Disinfectant Wipes(NEW)
- Latex-Free Gloves
- Eye Protection Goggles or glasses (NEW)
- Face Shields (NEW)
- Protective Gowns (water-resistant)
- Disposable Food Grade Gloves
- Thermometers (NEW only), especially non-contact versions
ADRN is also accepting homemade masks.
Donations can be dropped off at ADRN Headquarters/HOPE Family Thrift Store, 1122 East 51st Street, Austin 78723 on Monday-Saturday from 10am - 6pm.