HOUSTON - Mixing a sense of urgency with the need to be accountable and transparent to the public, the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund today announces the distribution of $28.9 million in donated funds to 90 local non-profit organizations that will provide financial aid and services to Houston/Harris County flood victims.
The fund was founded by Mayor Sylvester Turner and County Judge Ed Emmett to channel the exceptional generosity and compassion of Houston and Harris County area residents -- as well as companies, foundations and individuals from across the United States -- into tangible ways to help their neighbors in need as soon as possible.
Today’s announcement marks the second round of fund disbursements even as officials are working on the third round to be completed by January. Since its founding after the hurricane, the fund has collected more than $100 million and, with today’s announcement, has distributed more than $36 million. The fund will continue to collect donations through December 31, 2017.
“Bouncing back from disaster is hard work for flood victims trying to repair homes, pay for temporary housing, replace damaged personal belongings and start their lives over,” Judge Emmett said. “So, the administrators of the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund are working hard to meet their needs. It’s a process that is making a difference.”
Mayor Turner added, “I am heartened to see that round two of the distribution of donations from so many kind donors is based on data about needs in the community and will boost the well-being of the entire Houston area with direct financial aid and services that government simply cannot supply. The relief fund will never cease honing its effectiveness and speed as the distribution of funds continues to aid seniors, children and everyone else in need. The reach of this round’s distribution is deep and will improve the lives of many in our city. Our work will continue as we identify the best and most meaningful ways to distribute the funds over the next months.”
Using data to pinpoint needs
Today’s distribution is guided by a study using FEMA data and call data from the city’s 2-1-1 help line as a way to confirm where and what the city/county’s greatest personal flood recovery needs are. It was conducted by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University.
The 90 non-profit organizations selected are trusted, experienced groups with the proven ability to identify clients and their needs and then assist them directly.
Direct funding and services to be provided by the non-profit recipients include but are not limited to:
- Assistance with paying for food, clothing, rent, mortgage payments and utilities
- Home repairs
- Replacement of flood-damaged furniture and appliances for those who did not have flood insurance.
- Case management for elderly, disabled, and other individuals who need help applying for assistance and developing a recovery plan.
- Trauma/crisis intervention
- Job training and employment services
- Grants for families with children
A list of non-profit organizations in today’s distribution of funds, the amount each receives, and the services and aid is available at:
See ghcf.org for more information about this disbursement.
The funding is expected to support these organizations’ efforts over the next 120 days.
Flood victims who have not been in direct contact with the non-profits receiving Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund grants should call 2-1-1 for assistance.
Halfway through its 90-day service period, the first round of disbursements -- $7.5 million to 28 organizations -- has quickly lifted many lives:
- 75,884 households have received basic items such as food, clothing and hygiene products
- 3,553 households have received case management services
- 2,464 households have received direct financial assistance
- 1,123 households received home repair or housing services
- 432 households have received furniture
The assistance has produced many touching stories. Here is one.
“Joyce is 89. She lives off her deceased husband’s railroad retirement pension so she manages her funds very carefully. When Harvey hit, she was forced out of her home due to several feet of standing water. She has been living with her son and daughter-in-law. Construction contractors told her she would be scheduled to move home a few weeks ago but that didn't happen because there were things that still needed to be done at the house. Joyce had made a list of items she needed to replace in her home for when she goes back. When she came to West Houston Assistance Ministries for assistance, WHAM told her that it was her lucky day because it had Walmart and Kroger gift cards for individuals affected by Harvey. This definitely made her day and will help her save her pension funds for other things she needs.”
Mayor Turner and Judge Emmett turned over administration of the fund to the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a highly efficient, proven and deeply community minded grant-making organization, and created a board to provide oversight of the distribution of hurricane relief funds. The board is co-chaired by Turner appointee Tony Chase, a civic activist and businessman, and Emmett appointee Bill Jackson, the county budget director.