CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Corpus Christi business 361 Grants is raising some eyebrows over whether the help they provide is legitimate, or a way to be scammed.
The business – currently working out of El Barrio Food Pantry on South 19th Street and a home on Elesa Street – claimed they help people apply for grants and other types of financial assistance.
“It’s a way to help people apply for grants that they might not know are available,” 361 Grants office manager Linda Munoz said.
These grants can be used to help people in times of hardship, Munoz said, or those needing help with home repairs.
One of the home repair grants 361 Grants advertises, can award up to $10,000, they said.
However, in order to begin the process, they charge a $150 fee.
“There is the application fee, which gets given to the grant writer,” Munoz said. “The grant writer will go and pick whatever it is according to whatever’s in need (...) they submit. (They) apply for the grant and everything and then it gets submitted.”
Munoz said the fee is not charged to people who are elderly, disabled or sick.
She said people don't get awarded the grant, they can apply for a refund.
Despite the claim for what the fee is used for, Katie Galan with the Better Business Bureau said grant writers are normally used on a larger scale, like for universities and school districts.
“Grant writers are typically not used for something like this – like an individual looking to get home repairs or something like that,” Galan said.
She added if the applications are for federal or state government grants, a business cannot charge any type of fee.
“Nobody should ever be asking you to pay for federal grants. It is illegal,” she said.
Munoz clarified the house repair grant is not from the government.
“(It’s from) corporations that get together and also donate. Also private donors,” Munoz said.
KRIS 6 News asked about the businesses or corporations involved, but Munoz directed us to a website that provides a list of grants.
That’s where she said the grant writers pick which grant to apply for.
Munoz said once it’s submitted and approved, an award letter is sent out by email to the recipient. However, she said it can take from 20-22 months.
The company has been operating for 5-6 months, but Munoz said they do not know how many people have been awarded grants, if any.
“We know that a lot of award letters have gone out if they have been approved,” she said.
BBB officials want to remind residents if they’re still behind on their home loan payments or related expenses because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is Texas Home Owner Assistance.
Texas homeowners could be eligible for assistance if they meet the following criteria:
- If you are behind on one or more of these payments: mortgage loans, property taxes, property insurance, or homeowner/ condo association fees
- If you have a household income at or below 100 percent area medium income or 100 percent of the median income for the United States, whichever is greater
- If you own or occupy a home in Texas as a primary residence
- If you experienced a qualified financial hardship after January 21, 2020, such as lost income or increased expenses due to the pandemic
For more information including the application, visit the Texas Homeowner Assistance website.