Find relief with financial assistance & resources for restaurant workers, freelancers & those in need

True Food Kitchen in Post Oak | Courtesy of True Food Kitchen

Last updated: Friday, March 27, 2020

Reach out to local and national organizations seeking to provide financial assistance to those in various industries, including restaurants, music, and freelancers.

During these difficult times, you or someone you know may find themselves in financial need—particularly if employed in restaurants, bars, music and events, or as a freelance worker.

We’ve compiled a list of resources for those in need, including how to obtain unemployment benefits, secure loans for your small business, or reach out to those within specific industries.

If you would like to donate to help fund these organizations and more, feel free to keep reading here and check out our regularly updated listed of organizations providing help in Houston.

If you know of more organizations that can provide assistance, please get in touch with us at [email protected].

A special thank you to Houstonfirst for their help in compiling resources for economic relief.

Unemployment Benefits

  • Texas Workforce Commission – Applications for unemployment benefits have been expedited during the Coronovirus crisis. Apply by submitting an application on the TWC website. You will need a social security number, last employer’s business name and address, first and last dates you worked for your last employer, number of hours worked and pay rate if you worked this week, information related to your normal wage, and an alien registration number (if not a U.S. citizen or national).

Restaurant Industry

  • Southern Smoke Foundation – Accepting applications from restaurant owners and service industry workers who are dealing with closed businesses or significant declines in revenue. If you are able, donations are greatly appreciated as 90% of all donations go directly to the Emergency Relief Fund.
  • Restaurant Opportunities Centers United – During this difficult time, this organization is providing resources and financial assistance to restaurant workers impacted by the Coronavirus crisis. Click here to apply for assistance and view other available national resources.
  • Restaurant Workers Relief Program at Riel RestaurantIn partnership with Makers Mark, The Lee Initiative and Chef Edward Lee, restaurants around the country are turning into relief centers for any restaurant worker who has been laid off or had a significant reduction in hours and/or pay. Each night, hundreds of to-go dinners will be packed and offered on a first-come, first-serve basis (limit 1 per person unless there is an emergency need). Essential supplies will also be on hand for free for those in need. Offered seven days a week for a minimum of ten days (through at least Saturday, April 4, 2020). 4pm to 6pm daily.
  • Another Round, Another Rally – Offering $500 relief grants to hospitality workers who lost their jobs or had their hours slashed in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. Also collecting donations from those eager to help hospitality industry workers.
  • Lift Your Spirits – Proceeds from the #LiftYourSpirits campaign will support the restaurant worker relief efforts at the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF). Make a video in which you mix your favorite drink, toast to those affected in the industry, and post it using #LiftYourSpirits, challenging your friend to send a tip donation to NRAEF.
  • One Fair Wage – Providing free cash assistance to restaurant workers, delivery drivers and other tipped workers and service workers who are seeing their income decline during the Coronavirus outbreak. Donations are appreciated and workers can sign up here.
  • Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE) – The national nonprofit organization is granting financial support to food and beverage service employees with children, who are faced with life-altering circumstances and in need of help. Click here to apply.
  • The Dining Bond Initiative – Similar to a savings bond, users can purchase a “bond” at a value rate to be redeemed for face value at a future date, helping to bring in much needed revenue for restaurants and other dining businesses. Resources are available to help restaurants sell dining bonds through their website, by phone, or by regular mail.
  • Go Tip Em – Select your favorite or a random bartender from around the country and tip $1, $2, $5 or any other amount to that bartender’s preferred mobile payment service. Use #GoTipEm and help spread the word. Bartenders and servers can sign up here.
  • Bartender Emergency Assistance Program – Provides financial assistance grants to bartenders and their families. You do not need to be a USBG member to apply for a philanthropic grant. Click here to review eligibility requirements and submit an application.

Small Businesses

Artists, Freelancers & Those in Need

  • Houston Arts Alliance – Artists can apply for regular and disaster unemployment if they have proof of employment. This includes hourly, salaried and contract work. The Texas Workforce Commission has information and a link to Disaster Unemployment Assistance.
  • Backline – The mission of this organization is to connect music industry professionals and their family members with a trusted network of mental health and wellness providers for musicians and music industry workers, as well as their families. Donations are also appreciated.
  • MusiCares – To help address the concerns of those whose creative practices and incomes are being adversely impacted by Coronavirus, the Recording Academy and MusiCares are offering basic living assistance (rent or mortgage) with initial grant requests of up to $1000 to compensate for canceled work that was scheduled and lost. You will need to submit a completed MusiCares application, proof of cancellations and bookings, and a copy of your lease agreement or mortgage statement (which includes account numbers, vendor address and your name on the lease or statement). Application processing is expected to take up to two weeks and only complete applications will be reviewed. Click here to apply for assistance.
  • Sweet Relief – The financial assistance organization for musicians and music industry workers has a donor-directed fund that can help provide funds for medical expenses, lodging, clothing, food and other vital living expenses. Complete a Sweet Relief application and provide supplementary documentation proving at least 50% of all income comes from working within the music community, proof of cancellations and bookings, and relevant medical documentation. Donations to the Sweet Relief fund can also be made.
  • Equal Sound – A collaboration of organizations aiming to provide financial assistance to musicians and music industry workers are accepting applications and donations, as well as volunteers to help grow their mission. Click here for application, donation, and volunteer information.
  • Freelance Co-op – If you are a creative freelancer who has been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 virus, you can apply for temporary assistance through the Freelance Co-op fund. Currently accepting donations and partners to help fund and assist the growing number of assistance requests.
  • Leveler – This peer-to-peer tool allows for salaried workers to distribute funds across a database of freelancers, service industry and gig economy workers impacted by the Coronavirus crisis. As a donator, you will be assigned a group of ten people and are able to evenly distribute your donation, as well as repeat the process as many times as you wish.
  • Rent Assistance – This organization helps connect users to thousands of local agencies and non-profit organizations that can help pay rent or find a better rate.
  • Crowdsource Rescue – The Houston-based disaster response non-profit connects volunteers with high-risk Houston residents for no-contact food deliveries. If you need food or can help deliver food, this organization can make sure your needs are met. If you’d like to assist the organization in another way, donations are accepted here.

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