Even in the best of times, it can be hard to make ends meet living in rural southwest Colorado. During the COVID-19 pandemic many have found themselves in unexpected or difficult situations, without a job or with reduced hours, making it even more difficult to stretch dollars. That is why we are proud to administer a variety of emergency funds to help the members of our community cover essential expenses when other resources have been exhausted. Tri-County Health Network (TCHNetwork) believes that to maintain equitable health outcomes in our community, we must provide residents with the support they need to thrive, in good and bad times alike.
TCHNetwork administers the Good Neighbor Fund, Ouray Community Response Fund, San Miguel Behavioral Health Solutions Fund, the Telluride Housing Relief Fund, and Energy Assistance programming through Energy Outreach Colorado (EOC) and the Colorado Low-Income Energy Assistance (LEAP) program.
The Good Neighbor Fund, which falls under the umbrella of the Telluride Foundation but has been administered by Tri-County Health Network since 2012, exists to help promote a stable workforce in San Miguel County, West Montrose County, Ouray County, and the Town of Rico. The Fund can provide emergency financial assistance to qualified applicants for daily needs such as rent, mortgage, medical bills, car repair, food assistance, utility assistance, and more to allow individuals to continue to live and work in these our communities.
In addition, TCHNetwork also administers 3 other relief funds to help resident. These include the Ouray Community Response Fund, a fund created by donors in Ouray County to help residents of Ouray County during the pandemic. In addition, the San Miguel Behavioral Health Solutions Fund, an initiative to provide support for behavioral health services for residents or workers in San Miguel County that is supported through property taxes in San Miguel County. Finally, TCHNetwork administers the Telluride Housing Relief Fund to provide partial rent or mortgage payments to individuals living within the boundaries of the Telluride R-1 School District.
TCHNetwork is proud to be entrusted with the responsibility to disperse these three emergency funds. In addition to administering these funds, our staff can also assist clients with connecting to other community resources, including Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and provide information about area resources such as food banks, temporary housing, and other vital resources to help individuals overcome challenging situations. Since 2017, TCHNetwork has also administered two energy assistance programs, including Energy Outreach Colorado and LEAP, to assist qualifying individuals in paying their bills for energy sources including electricity, natural gas, coal, firewood, kerosene, propane, oil, and pellets.
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As of December, the Good Neighbor Fund has helped over 500 clients during the pandemic and distributed $765,000 in emergency funds throughout our service area. The Ouray Community Response Fund has provided over $223,000 in emergency funds to over 100 residents of Ouray County since March of 2020, while the San Miguel Behavioral Solutions fund has provided over 30 clients with over $42,000 in funding since May of 2020. The Telluride Housing Relief Fund provided over $34,000 in funding to 47 individuals in the Spring of 2020.
In 2020 alone, our Energy Assistance Programming has provided over $30,000 in energy bill relief for more than 120 clients in within our service area.
2020 has undoubtedly been a difficult year. And we want to help. If you or anyone you know needs assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to TCHNetwork. As our communities begin to heal from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to provide resources to help community members thrive across our rural region.