August 25th will mark the two-year anniversary of the day Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas. A lot of good people have come and gone from our state since then, but recovery is ongoing. The torch – or the tool, really – has been mostly passed from national response organizations to local, community-based recovery groups focused on recovery and building resilience, almost literally, from the ground up.
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund has always had a mid- to long-term recovery focus. “Recovery” is even part of its name. So, while others are no longer here, helping to support these groups as they continue supporting their communities’ recovery, we’re still here. And, we’re still funding. Because we know that long-term recovery means exactly that – LONG-term.
I am particularly excited to announce the latest round of grants we have awarded from the CDP Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund, totaling nearly $2.66 million. You’ll see here that there is still a lot of work to do, and a lot of amazing groups still doing that work:
Free Indeed – Community Works CDC was awarded with a $300,000 grant to support the High 5 Harvey Recovery Program, serving at-risk youth and their families in northeast Houston that were affected by Hurricane Harvey. Through this program they will provide a holistic wrap-around approach to supporting the families in this neighborhood. By funding a program that is engaging youth and families on recovery and preparing an at-risk community for the next one, we are supporting organizational and community resilience, one of our identified issue areas for this round of funding. Community Works CDC also collaborates with other organizations for whom we’ve provided funding, so this grant will leverage those dollars, as well.
Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity (GCHFH) was awarded a second grant in this round from the CDP Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund. This time, we are providing $1.2 million to support their involvement repairing and rebuilding homes in Victoria County, Texas, where they will partner with others to completely relocate individuals and families whose homes were in high-risk flooding areas. This project addresses our identified focus areas of housing repair and rebuild and building community resilience. A new subdivision, Hope Meadows, is a collaborative effort of the Victoria County Long Term Recovery Group (VCTLTRG), GCHFH, Samaritan’s Purse, and Mennonite Disaster Services, with funding coming from several different organizations, including our partners at the Rebuild Texas Fund.
Harvey Home Connect (a project of the Greater Houston Community Foundation) was awarded $500,000 for the further development of Harvey Home Connect (HHC), a common application management system for Harvey-impacted homeowners, with a focus on aligning it with existing disaster case management software programs in a more efficient manner. Continued development of HHC will facilitate applications for recovery assistance from Harris County and enable expansion to Fort Bend, Brazoria, Galveston, Waller, and Montgomery counties. This funding is expected to connect more than 1,000 families to recovery resources they would otherwise have difficulty accessing. HHC was created to eliminate barriers to recovery for clients and the nonprofits attempting to serve them. Hurricane Harvey caused property damage at anywhere between $50 billion and $180 billion. Many displaced and affected residents have been relying on nonprofit organizations for transitional housing, food and supplies, financial assistance, case management, connections to available federal resources and housing cleanup/repairs. Nonprofit organizations play a key role in the necessary hard work of cleaning up neighborhoods house by house and rebuilding block by block. Frequently, non-profits and government programs encounter challenges in serving low income residents including legal issues, poor documentation, pre-existing social vulnerabilities, and mental health challenges. Working with the United Way of Greater Houston and the Rebuild Texas Fund, our hope is to expand the positive experience we’ve seen with HHC in Houston to areas beyond the metro and potentially for use in future disasters.
Houston Community ToolBank will receive $157,400 to expand the geographic reach of its tool lending program and to add requested tools like generators and HEPA air scrubbers to its inventory. This supports our focus area of housing repair and rebuild, as well as organizational resilience. Houston ToolBank will construct four modified shipping containers to be placed in central locations in Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County and Harris County. They will also purchase a box truck for tool deliveries and transferring tools among these facilities. Additionally, funds will allow them to hire a staff member to support these additional tool sites and will expand the number and types of tools provided to include generators and HEPA air scrubbers to their inventory (at the request of those using their services). By providing support for these projects, we will allow the important service the Houston ToolBank has been offering to nonprofit organizations during the rebuild process to more easily access their tools and services, making the process run more efficiently. Their reach will also be expanded, which will help these organizations, and in some cases, individuals who are self-recovering, to save precious funds they’ve been having to use to rent or purchase tools.
Wharton County Recovery Team (WCRT) was awarded $500,000 to build and repair homes for Harvey survivors whose homes were located in high-risk areas for additional flooding. This is one of two proposals we considered for this round that is part of a complete neighborhood development in order to relocate individuals and families who have suffered from repeated flooding events. It responds to our issue focus areas of housing repair/rebuild and, of course, community resilience. Working with their partners, WCRT will build 40 new homes in the West End of Wharton; repair 100 homes in need of minor repair; add 3 new homes in other parts of Wharton County; and repair 5 homes that have major damage. Wharton County has had four recent floods, including Hurricane Harvey, so building resilience to flooding is paramount in this community.
What is common in these grants – and ones we have made previously – is that our grantmaking is made through an equity lens. At CDP, we know that when we focus our funding on diversity, equity and inclusion, we are better strategic grantmakers. So in addition to announcing these grants I’m delighted to share our new video that shows our grantmaking in action and our partners in this work:
Thanks to support from an amazing grant committee that includes a diverse, local group of thought leaders on the needs here in Texas, we have been able to direct our grant funding to organizations who are focused, too, on the equitable recovery of their communities. Because when we make sure recovery is equitable, the whole community is better.