The Colony City Council on Tuesday approved a budget amendment that is designed to provide assistance to its residents impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joe Perez, director of community relations and programming, said $15,000 will go to the Next Steps nonprofit organization to help residents with rent and utility payments.
The Texas Supreme Court had put a moratorium in place to prevent landlords from evicting people for not being able to pay their rent due to the pandemic. But that moratorium has expired.
“We still have a lot of folks in The Colony who are in need of assistance,” Perez said. “Next Steps in The Colony has helped those folks, even prior to the pandemic happening. We funded them in this budget year to offer that assistance. But what they’re running into is that there is much more of a demand than they can manage.”
Pamela De Santiago, who leads Next Steps, said the organization has received 66 applications for assistance since March 26. She said Next Steps has processed approximately $50,000 in rent and utility assistance.
Perez said the United Way of Denton County has helped financially. But he said the way its program is set up, it has to rely on all of the nonprofits to provide the assistance up front.
“It's really just been a cash flow issue,” De Santiago said. “Next Steps isn't even a year old. We have yet to throw a fundraiser or reach out to the community for any real financial support. I am hopeful that as the city and neighbors in The Colony see the amount of good that is happening through Next Steps that we will have the full support of the community.”
Perez said the city’s action will help bridge the gap so Next Steps can provide the service and submit for reimbursement.
“Another issue that’s happened through all this is the review time,” Perez said. “Because there’s so much coming through United Way it takes a little bit of time for them to process everything. So in the meantime Next Steps and other nonprofits throughout the county are waiting to get those reimbursements.”
Perez said Next Steps has received its first round of reimbursements.
“But they’re still seeing a large requests for assistance, and they don’t see that slowing down anytime soon,” Perez said.
Perez said $15,000 is how much Next Steps requested to cover them for the next month or two as reimbursements continue to come in.
“In the future they may need more,” Perez said. “But we’re also waiting to see what comes back with the CARES (Act) Fund, so that will come into play as well. We’re still not sure where that’s at, so in the interim we thought this would fill the gap until we equalize everything and see what happens with CARES Act funding.”
Perez said Next Steps has applied for other grants, but those will go toward other services that Next Steps provides.
For information on receiving financial assistance through Next Steps, contact De Santiago at email@example.com or call 972-445-7770.