ABOVE: Mayor Sylvester Turner and County Judge Ed Emmett
Lots of people have been asking about what is going on with the money collected for the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund and how it will be distributed.
Well, the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund recently announced this week that its first round of grants, totaling $7.55 million, is being distributed to 28 experienced, local non-profit organizations to provide services and support to flood victims.
The accelerated round of grants amounts to about 10 percent of the total donations to the fund.
The grants were announced by fund advisory board chairman and local businessman, Tony Chase, along with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, who started the fund shortly after the storm caused the extensive flooding that disrupted the lives of thousands of residents.
“The goal of the committee was to quickly get these funds into the community through organizations uniquely equipped to help our neighbors suffering from the storm,” said Chase. “We placed a particular focus on the critical need for temporary housing throughout the region and I am pleased that we were able to help people in every zip code across the county.”
The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund is dedicated to filling the aid gaps unaddressed by government efforts. The grant contract with each organization specifies that the funds must go towards programs that will benefit storm victims within the next 90 days.
Many of the initial funds are dedicated to providing temporary housing, rental assistance and other financial assistance to storm victims. The remaining portion will help provide food to flood victims, along with case management to help them navigate the various governmental and insurance processes.
“Our goal was to get a roof over the heads of those suffering to ensure that they can get back to some semblance of normalcy,” said Bill Jackson, co-chair of the committee. “Having a mailing address is actually more critical than most would imagine, and I am grateful to the many donors to the fund who made this possible.”
The board will “make sure these funds are distributed to reputable organizations and get out to the people who are most in need,” said Judge Emmett.
“As Houston gets back to business after the flood, it’s time for the business of putting these donations to work for the people who need relief,” added Mayor Turner.
The fund’s 12-member advisory board moved quickly in its first meeting on September 20th to establish priorities for the initial phase of the grant-making process. The board directed the Greater Houston Community Foundation (GHCF), the fund’s administrator, to contact organizations across the community that have the capacity and disaster recovery experience to utilize the funds quickly.
The board placed a particular focus on ensuring funds went not only to major, highly-visible non-profits in the region, but also smaller, yet well-qualified community-based organizations that have more direct contact with their local area. Almost 60 percent of the funds went to smaller organizations with annual operating budgets of $5 million and under.
The advisory board is co-chaired by Chase, chairman & CEO of Chase Source, and Bill Jackson, Harris County budget officer. The board includes five members appointed by Mayor Turner and five members selected by Judge Emmett and the Harris County Commissioners Court.
Those appointed by the mayor are Chase, Dr. Ruth Lopez Turley, Basil Abul-Hamayel, Winell Herron, Nataly Marks, and Ken Valach. Appointees of the county judge are Jackson, Mike Ballases, William Taylor, Hattie Miranda, Janiece Longoria, and George (Trey) Strake, III.
The advisory board is working with the Greater Houston Community Foundation to develop the specific criteria and application process for future rounds of grant funding. This will be established through an open request-for-proposals process to be announced in a few weeks.
For subsequent rounds of funding, the board co-chairs have appointed a grants committee composed of experts in grant-making and disaster recovery along with philanthropic leaders from across the community. The grants committee will use its expertise to review the applications and offer funding recommendations to the advisory board for approval.
The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by the generous contributions of individuals and institutions. GHCF is assisting the fund by managing the donations process, helping establish and administer the RFP process and vetting of grant applicants.
GHCF was selected to house the relief fund due to its long history of supporting and administering disaster philanthropy. GHCF administered the Bush Clinton Katrina Fund, The Hurricane Ike Recovery Fund and the Storm Relief Fund of 2016.
Grant recipients that were recently announced in the first round of grants are:
- Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation
- Aldine Education Foundation
- Alliance for Multicultural Community Services
- Avenue Community Development Corporation
- Boat People SOS – Houston, Inc.
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
- Chinese Community Center, Inc.
- Coalition for the Homeless/New Hope Housing
- Communities In Schools of Houston
- Family Service Center at Houston and Harris County
- Houston Habitat for Humanity, Inc.
- Houston Food Bank
- Humble Area Assistance Ministries
- Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston
- Jewish Family Service – Houston
- Katy Christian Ministries
- Main Street Ministries Houston
- Memorial Assistance Ministries
- Montrose Counseling Center, Inc.
- New Hope Housing
- North Channel Assistance Ministries
- Northwest Assistance Ministries
- Salvation Army
- SEARCH Homeless Services
- Tahirih Justice Center
- Volunteers of America, Inc.
- West Houston Assistance Ministries, Inc.
Flood victims may call 211 to ask for services provided by the agencies that received funds today.
Donations to the fund may be made at houstonrecovers.org.