HOUSTON — Whether you're behind on paying rent or can’t afford to buy food, during the pandemic, so many families and businesses have been hit hard with financial hardship and are struggling to make ends meet.
TexasDebtRelief.org is a website that’s helping to ease some of those burdens by offering free resources online.
Among those who’ve benefited from the website, 73-year-old Sandra Schieber.
Up until two years ago, Schieber says she’s always taken pride in paying her bills on time.
"I was doing well, I was really happy, things were going great, and then all of sudden everything just happened,” said Schieber.
From her twin sister suddenly passing away in a car accident to days later being hospitalized herself after contracting a brain-eating amoeba, Schieber said she soon noticed her bills piling up and her sudden medical expenses mounting.
"I was looking at my finances and said I honestly don't know what to do,” said Schieber.
Schieber’s story of facing financial debt is one Walt Burch unfortunately hears far too often. He’s the founder of TexasDebtRelief.org, a website dedicated to helping people like Schieber get back on their feet.
"People need to know you can get through it, you will get through it, this is a temporary thing," said Burch.
Burch said during the pandemic the need has increased tenfold.
"Many times, people think, oh, it’s because people are just overspending so much on credit cards, but the fact is the great majority of the people we help never have had to reach our for help in the past,” said Burch.
From providing links to temporary assistance and benefits families might qualify for, to free educational tools teaching people how to manage and reduce their debt, Burch says his website offers an array of resources combined on one site.
"We also have free resources on how to contact creditors on your own and appeal for assistance,” said Burch.
If you need additional help, a quick survey on the website will connect you with state approved debt relief providers, who will create a personalized financial plan to help lower your debt, by consolidating your debts for example, and then reach out to creditors on your behalf.
Burch said if your provider succeeds at reducing your debt, you may be charged a monthly fee for their services after, however by law, providers can’t charge you upfront fees.
"Very often creditors will agree to help if you are facing a genuine hardship,” said Burch.
It’s the route Schieber chose after using the website. A decision she said changed her life for the better.