Grants Help Struggling Families Meet Basic Needs
When a family has trouble meeting their basic needs, like food and shelter, they can't even think about things like saving for the future. United Way of Greater Houston's Basic Needs Grants help families in our community meet their everyday needs and equip social assistance organizations to respond to growing needs in our area.

"We are aware that thousands of working families and individuals in our community struggle monthly with paying rent, buying groceries and keeping utilities connected, among other things," says Rachelle Alridge, Community Investment program manager at United Way of Greater Houston. "But when we can provide assistance by helping them meet those basic needs, we see them focus on more systemic changes, like becoming financially stable and self-sufficient."

United Way recently awarded a total of $350,000 to 14 organizations that help families in our community with food assistance, rent and utility assistance, transportation and other basic needs. Grants were awarded to the organizations that receive the largest number of referrals from the 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE.

In 2010, the 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE answered more than 802,500 calls for help, a 10 percent increase over 2009. Basic needs, like utilities, health care and food, topped the list of requests in 2010, followed by rent assistance and help finding shelter.

The 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE made more than 51,000 referrals to the 14 agencies that received grants, an increase of more than 20,000 over the previous year. This round of grant funds will provide nearly 21,000 families in our community with the help they need to get through a difficult time. Rhonda's family is one of them.

When Rhonda's husband died, she was left alone to care—and provide—for her family. She and her kids had to move, but Rhonda wasn't sure she could afford a new place and all of the moving expenses. Through United Way's Basic Needs Grants, Rhonda and her kids got the help they needed to move into an apartment and get back on their feet.

This year, United Way also offered special one-time grants to help organizations purchase equipment and/or technology that will have a long-term impact on the people they serve. These infrastructure development grants will help organizations with items like refrigerators and other storage for food and donated products.

At United Way, we know that when families don't have to worry about the basics, they can focus on what really matters: financial stability, a good education for their kids and building a strong future. Basic Needs Grants are one way we're doing something life-changing for families in our community.

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