ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Fears around the spread of COVID-19 have led many businesses and schools to shut down. This has negatively impacted hundreds of employees, and students, who rely on consistent paychecks and daily meal services.
However, there are local agencies that may be able to assist. The Permian Basin Workforce Development Board and the 2-1-1 Texas Hotline are overseen by the Health and Human Services Commission. Both connect residents to local resources that help you, and your family, stay afloat during times of unemployment or financial crisis.
Program Director, Soeli Erazo, says you are never alone. Erazo oversees the 2-1-1 Texas Hotline, which connects people to the services they need.
“We have some numbers that we can refer people to, so they can get more information,” explained Erazo. “So like the local Health Department, 68 Nurse, and phones that are provided in our database by the Health and Human Services Commission.”
Trained employees are available on the other line 24/7. They connect callers to governmental and non-profit organizations that assist unemployed, or financially-struggling, residents.
“Agencies that can provide assistance with rent, utilities, food… So if the agencies are open during this period, and they have the funds, they will be able to assist.”
In addition to its normal operations, Health and Human Services Commission ordered 2-1-1 services to activate a COVID-19 emergency call line.
“We’re waiting to see if there are new resources that we can add to the database,” said Erazo.
Just across the hall, Workforce Solutions is hard at work providing jobs, vocational training, and childcare services for unemployed parents.
“We have about 2,000 parents that are on the childcare program,” said CEO of Permian Basin Workforce Development Board, Willie Taylor. “Some of our childcare providers, they have food programs for some of those kids with economic disadvantage.”
Taylor says Governor Abbott and Texas Workforce Commission are working on a temporary payment package that would allow workers to extend their unemployment benefit claims. He added Texas has six Unemployment Insurance call centers where people can walk-in, or they can also go online and apply. You need to call any workforce center in Odessa, Midland, Big Spring, Fort Stockton, or Pecos to get registered.