Get help through GETCAP

by Cristin Parker

Struggling to pay rent or the electric bill? Can’t find a job or want to get a better one?

The Greater East Texas Community Action Program (GETCAP) is here to help with two programs that can assist eligible people in Cherokee County whose finances just don’t seem to stretch far enough – and help them find a way to get a leg up on their economic situation, too.

Eligible residents could receive several months’ rent assistance GETCAP’s RISE (Reaching Independence through Supportive Elevation) program.

Short term rent assistance is available for eligible citizens who are currently experiencing struggles.

“The recent pandemic and economic downturn has challenged households financially in rural east Texas,” RISE Program Director Teresa Land said. “Many people need a few months of help to get on their feet financially. Rent payment assistance can provide this chance. People are encouraged to pursue this assistance.”

Participants are required to qualify by household income and other documentation. The income guideline is 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines -- $25,520 for an individual; $34,480 for a couple; $43,440 for a household of three; and $52,400 for a household of four, as determined by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Qualifying Cherokee County families can also receive energy assistance through GETCAP’s federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Program.

LIHEAP assists eligible low-income households with their heating and cooling energy costs, bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

GETCAP administers the program in Cherokee County and eligibility is based on household income, citizenship and circumstances. The application process is the minimum required by guidelines. Proof of income for the previous 30 days and evidence of citizenship is required.

“Individuals do not have to come back once they qualify,” GETCAP Executive Director Karen Swenson explained. “Many qualify for help every month to the end of the year. We have always targeted the elderly and disabled and will continue to do so.”

In an effort to help their clients ‘RISE’ above their financial struggles, GETCAP’s RISE program has received special funding to assist people who are serious about finding a job, getting a better job or receiving training.

“The purpose is to help people move to greater economic independence -- better earning can be achieved with deliberate changes.” Swenson said. “COVID-19 has significantly impacted the already changing economy. Job opportunities are different. Rural east Texas has special challenges and we want to help people make the most of available opportunities. RISE offers a specialized approach for everyone. ”
Special support may be available for intense job search and training programs leading to a job. The program focuses on assistance for tuition and costs to attend training or do job search and may include gasoline assistance, utility assistance and other documented needs. “The enhanced funding is a wonderful opportunity for many to really improve their earning potential,” Lewis said. “People are strongly encouraged to pursue this assistance.”

Individuals are required to qualify by household income and other documentation. The income guideline is 200 percent of federal poverty. Those seeking training should take action as quickly as possible. To apply for any of these programs, visit or call (800) 621-5746 or (936) 585-7218. GETCAP programs are available to all regardless of race, color, creed or national origin.