On Tuesday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett announced the first round of grants from their nearly $79 million Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.
Leaders say the $7.55 million goes to 28 nonprofits to serve the people hardest hit, and “not one dime” will go to local governments.
“Every person in the world dream to arrive in the United States,” said Mohammed Mohialdnneen, who said his dream came true in November 2016 when he, his mother and sister moved to Houston as refugees from Baghdad, Iraq.
After a lifetime in the desert, Mohialdnneen was ready for Houston’s heat but said he never could have imagined Harvey, which flooded his car, taking away his means of getting to and from his two jobs. After hearing about his situation, Interfaith Ministries contacted Mohialdnneen and offered to pay his rent so he could pay to repair his car.
“If the agency’s not helping me, I would have lost my money and lost my car,” Mohialdnneen said.
Interfaith is one of the nonprofits getting money from the relief fund.
“They laid out specific plans on how they would create positive impacts and benefits in specific communities,” said Tony Chase, Co-Chair off the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.
Chase says the relief fund’s 12-person appointed board picked recipients based on the nonprofits’ previous disaster experience, as well as their ability to get the money into the hands of people that need it most within 90 days. He says all 28 recipients are already helping Harvey victims, and once the money is given out, the nonprofits will report back so the board can measure how well they lived up to their promise.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett believes helping storm victims through nonprofits instead of giving it directly to the victims themselves is a more efficient and effective way of helping.
“It would have been a nightmarish situation if the mayor and I had said to individuals, ‘Call us, call this fund, and apply for direct aid,’” Emmett said. “We wouldn’t set up a bureaucracy big enough to judge that.”
Mayor Turner said no matter where victims live in Harris County, how much they make, or whether they’re getting help from someone else, this money can help.
“There are a number of people who may be middle income, but this storm has pushed them down even more, so they need help as well,” Turner said.
It's post-Harvey help those already on the receiving end say has been life-changing.
“When (people in Iraq) ask me about my new city and my new country, I will tell them this happened,” Mohialdnneen said. “They (do) not forget any person.”
For storm victims needing help, Chase recommends calling 2-1-1, where call-takers can connect victims to the right resources.
Chase says they hope to give out all the funds within 9 to 12 months. For future rounds of grant-giving, the board wants to set up an application with specific criteria for the nonprofits to meet. Chase says he hopes to give out the next round of grants in “30 days or so."
The organizations receiving grants and the amounts are as follows:
- Jewish Family Service - Houston: $343,750
- Katy Christian Ministries - $110,000
- Main Street Ministries Houston - $250,000
- Memorial Assistance Ministries - $350,000
- Montrose Counseling Center, Inc. - $130,000
- New Hope Housing - $25,000
- North Channel Assistance Ministries - $400,000
- Northwest Assistance Ministries - $250,000
- Salvation Army - $100,000
- SEARCH Homeless Services - $55,575
- Tahirih Justice Center - $40,000
- Volunteers of America, Inc. - $100,000
- West Houston Assistance Ministries, Inc. - $66,000
- Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation - $140,000
- Aldine Education Foundation - $200,000
- Alliance for Multicultural Community Services - $147,500
- Avenue Community Development Corporation - $300,000
- BakerRipley - $1,000,000
- Boat People SOS - Houston, Inc. - $94,000
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston - Houston - $360,000
- Chinese Community Center, Inc. - $100,000
- Coalition for the Homeless/ New Hope Housing - $1,750,000
- Communities in Schools of Houston - $25,000
- Family Service Center of Houston and Harris County - $40,000
- Houston Habitat for Humanity, Inc. - $400,000
- Houston Food Bank - $350,000
- Humble Area Assistance Ministries - $275,000
- Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston - $150,000