March 11, 2021
The Houston Harris County Winter Storm Relief Fund announced it is investing an additional $6.3 million in area nonprofits serving the most vulnerable families and individuals. This follows the $1.65 million in emergency grants distributed on March 1. This latest round of grants will support vulnerable neighbors recovering from the winter storm through emergency financial assistance, home repairs and unmet needs assistance.
To date, more than $12.7 million in donations has been pledged to the fund by generous Houston companies and individuals. Recent contributions include Calpine ($750,000); H-E-B ($500,000); Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas ($250,000); William Randolph Hearst Foundation ($250,000); Hearst ($250,000); Phillips 66 ($250,000); The Powell Foundation ($200,000); Susie and Tommy Smith ($200,000); Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, and the NFL Foundation ($200,000); Kroger ($180,000); Deloitte ($150,000); Mo and Ric Campo ($100,000); Enbridge ($100,000); Keith and Sandy Oden ($100,000); Robert R. and Kay M. Onstead Foundation ($100,000); Randa and K.C. Weiner ($100,000); Wells Fargo ($100,000); and The Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Family Foundation ($100,000).
“We are not wasting any time getting storm relief funding into the hands of area nonprofits who can best assist vulnerable families and individuals,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “I am grateful to everyone who has donated to the Houston Harris County Winter Storm Relief Fund. Their generosity, combined with the work of the Greater Houston Community Foundation and the United Way of Greater Houston, continue to make a difference in the lives of those still recovering from historic freezing weather and the damage it caused in our communities.”
“We know life didn’t return to normal the moment our electrical grids powered up,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “Our region’s full recovery will require a sustained and targeted effort, and no one is better suited to identify and reach our most vulnerable families than our trusted nonprofit partners who already serve as boots on the ground for outreach, relief, and home repairs. This current round of funding, made possible by the continued generosity of our community and the leadership of the Greater Houston Community Foundation and the United Way of Greater Houston, will help make families whole again.”
In this round of grants, $3.1 million is being invested in 39 nonprofit partners to provide emergency financial assistance to those vulnerable families affected by the winter storm. Eligible households will receive up to $1,000 to be used on temporary housing, relocation, minor home repair handled by the household, food/furniture replacement, lost wages and other relief and recovery related expenses. In addition, $1.7 million is being invested in 10 nonprofits to support homeowners with urgent basic home repairs due to busted pipes, associated water damage and prolonged power loss.
A grant of $1.1 million will go toward establishing both an Unmet Needs Fund and a Construction Unmet Needs Fund. The Unmet Needs Fund will help eligible households with the replacement of appliances, furniture, medical equipment, relocation expenses, temporary housing and other critical unmet needs, while the Construction Unmet Needs Fund will support more substantial home repairs for vulnerable households that need additional resources to complete necessary repairs.
The balance of this round of grants, $400,000, will support systems coordination through investments in The Alliance and Connective to provide support to the fund grantees. The Alliance will provide a multi-lingual information line to help highly vulnerable families who have technology or language barriers access the home repair application and navigate the resource information and referrals process for FEMA, emergency financial assistance and food applications. Connective will build and operate an online home repair application that connects eligible applicants to fund grantees who are providing home repair services.
“With so many of our neighbors already struggling financially, there was a sense of urgency to ensure this round of grants was quickly deployed to trusted nonprofits who understand the needs of the communities they serve and can get resources to those who need it most,” said Tony Chase, chairman and CEO of ChaseSource, LP and co-chair of the fund’s grants committee. “We know the needs in our community far outweigh the available resources and urge anyone who can to support the fund to help our community recover.”
Those who were impacted by the storm and reside in the City of Houston or Harris County are asked to take the following steps to be connected with available resources:
Home Repair Assistance
Launched by Mayor Sylvester Turner and Judge Lina Hidalgo, the fund’s purpose is to support nonprofits providing relief and recovery efforts for individuals, families and communities impacted by the 2021 Severe Winter Storm Emergency in Harris County and the City of Houston. Along with disaster home repairs, the fund will support temporary housing and other basic needs relief. The fund is dedicated to filling the gaps that may not be met by other local and federal efforts. There will be a concerted effort to complement FEMA federal assistance, and impacted families are encouraged to apply to FEMA now at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/.
The Greater Houston Community Foundation (GHCF) and United Way of Greater Houston (UWGH) are jointly overseeing and administering the grant distribution process with the help of a grants committee, who will develop and execute a grant making strategy and approve grants to nonprofit partners. GHCF and UWGH will share information about all grants publicly on the fund’s website, www.WinterStormReliefFund.org, and through other communications for complete transparency about the expenditure of funds.
The Foundation and United Way are now accepting donations online at www.WinterStormReliefFund.org.