The Helpers: Agencies Offer Free Support for Families, Renters, Victims of Domestic Violence and Grieving or Anxious Children

Closures and shelter-in-place orders brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic mean even more stress, especially for many middle- and low-income families and individuals, and people suffering in abusive situations.

There is support and help for people struggling with mental and emotional health issues, and those without adequate shelter who need assistance in this overwhelmingly difficult time.

Here are some of the area agencies, nonprofits, institutions and other groups offering free help:

Salvation Army of San Antonio:

Salvation Army has friendly staff to help people

Helps renters struggling to pay rent and those facing potential eviction. Salvation Army also helps ailing, disabled, elderly and homebound residents having trouble coping with social distancing.

San Antonio and CPS Energy

Are providing utility assistance for customers, and an affordability discount program. The city is also accepting emergency rent and mortgage assistance referrals.

Bexar County 

Is providing utility assistance. Call (210) 355-3666 or email clientservices@bexar.org for more details.

SAMMinistries:

Offers rental, utility and long-term housing assistance.

State Bar of Texas:

Call their hotline - (800) 504-7030 - or go to this page on their website for free legal assistance for low-income individuals and families challenged in a range of issues, including: bankruptcy and debt collection; unemployment, child custody; healthcare directives and power of attorney; consumer protection matters such as price-gouging and scams; landlord-tenant problems; life, medical and property insurance claims; mortgage or foreclosure problems; disability discrimination; family and domestic violence concerns; and public benefits (i.e. SNAP/food stamps, Social Security, Medicaid).

Always look for the helpers, Mister Rogers quote

Family Violence Prevention Services:

Can provide support for those seeking shelter by calling (210) 733-8810.

Bexar County District Attorney:

While most staffers in the county district attorney’s office are working from home, some are available to contact domestic violence victims and witnesses by phone. To apply for a protective order, call (210) 631-0100 to begin the process. Applicants who meet the required legal criteria will come to the Family Justice Center https://www.bcfjc.org/204/Protective-Orders by appointment only to sign a sworn affidavit. Applicants may also fill out the intake form here: https://bexarcountyprotectiveorders.org/apply-online.

Need help from family violence? Call 911

People who need help or shelter from family violence should call 911 for life threatening emergencies. To make a safety plan or report suspected abuse, call (210) 207-SAPD.

Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas:

Offers no-cost support for children and families experiencing anticipatory grief or anxiety related to the pandemic. Individuals are encouraged to call (210) 736-4847 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. The counseling team can answer questions, complete intakes, and discuss tele-mental health options with you.

Clarity Child Guidance Center:

iI keeping open its outpatient and inpatient services. The center also seeks donations of face masks and undergarments for children in CCGC. Check out the center’s wishlist at this link.

Pearl:

will share messages of hope and resilience by members of San Antonio’s interfaith community through its social media channels. “While this time of year usually brings many opportunities for gathering, we must now find ways to stay connected amidst physical separation. Given all the uncertainty, we can turn to each other and members of our San Antonio interfaith community for words of comfort and faith. Throughout the month of April, Pearl will share messages of hope and resilience on its social media channels from some of San Antonio’s spiritual leaders in honor of Easter and Passover.”