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One Year Post-Harvey

It has been one year since homes, livelihoods, and other measures of personal security were blown away in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. We thank you for allowing us to respond to the needs of our community in what has become the largest humanitarian effort in Texas’ history.

Through more than three decades, MAM has helped our community face many disasters, including Hurricane Alicia, Tropical Storm Allison, Hurricane Ike, apartment building fires and a number of other similar situations. MAM’s network of services was easily translated into Harvey support, with staff and volunteers quickly mobilizing to provide rent and utilities assistance and related aid to families affected by the storm. Reduction or elimination of their work hours left families without the means to pay rent in September and often into October. The further out from the storm, these requests were reduced as families either moved out of the area or found work, many in the recovery efforts. Since that time, the vast majority of funds were used for rent and utility payments in temporary housing, as well as restoration services, appliances and furniture for newly repaired homes.

What Harvey Left Behind

There are still thousands of families trying to put their lives back together after Harvey and they have many faces. For some, their home is still in a state of disrepair – mold is present, there is no drywall between rooms or finished flooring. Others were in survival mode for a year to rebuild their life and the stressors have now caught up with them, sending them to seek mental health services. Many were scammed by building contractors. Still others didn’t know where to turn to ask for help, let alone asking for help. Now they are falling further and further behind paying rent and mortgage payments and finding that repairs take forever. And then there are those families who were forced to simply walk away and start a new life.

MAM provides Harvey Recovery services in four centers: our main offices on Blalock Road, the Cy-Fair Community Health Center near Bear Creek Village, the Acres Homes Multiservice Center, and at Avenue CDC Recovery Center in the Near Northside. Two of these centers are part of the city of Houston’s Neighborhood Recover Center system. Over 1,800 families from 29 Houston zip codes are getting help from MAM programs.

Lessons Learned

This work has once again proved that MAM is a trusted community resource for those who are in need – no matter their race, ethnicity, income level or immigration status. We have had clients from all walks of life and we assess each situation to consider all factors; MAM Disaster Case Managers have helped families with more moderate income levels with unusual situations such as a combination of supporting elderly parents, medical bills from critical illnesses and no homeowners insurance, undocumented families living in trailer parks with no access to FEMA as well as very low income families.

As an organization, we have learned that we are very nimble, can provide significant amount of cash assistance to families without losing our processes of verification of need and acceptance of a third party payment. Our day to day practices keep us ready for times of crisis. These include the relationships with landlords, utility companies, local furniture businesses, clothing and shoe stores, etc., a check writing process that prevents internal and external fraud, while functioning quickly (vendors receive the payment within 3 days of contact) and a follow up system that assures that the assistance has improved the client family status in the crisis.

We have also learned that we can develop our staff very quickly to learn new information such as how to determine if a home is ready for rebuild, create a long term recovery plan with a family, use the FEMA website and information to follow up on a client’s status and establish new partnerships with organizations.

We greatly appreciate your support—especially as our families face new tribulations that affect their well-being. Together, we are Houston Strong.

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