Texas Appleseed works with a network of organizations in Texas, including housing advocates, policy experts, and grassroots community groups, to ensure that all Texas families are able to recover in the wake of a natural disaster, that communities are rebuilt to be more resilient, and that all families have the opportunity to live in safe, decent neighborhoods with equal access to educational and economic opportunity. This work started in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, continued with recovery from Hurricanes Ike and Dolly in 2008, and now will be a major focus as we respond to Hurricane Harvey. This blog post explains some of the lessons we've learned over more than a decade of experience in advocacy on behalf of survivors of natural disasters.
We know that communities that are hardest hit, both by natural disasters and by social and economic injustice, are too often low-income communities of color that have not received equal investment in basic public infrastructure and services and that often have had undesirable uses, like environmental hazards, concentrated there. Texas Appleseed believes that local, state, and federal government must remedy these legacies of discrimination and pave the way for a better, safer future for families living in these communities, and we advocate to make those changes a reality.
- Lawsuit Alleges Discrimination in Port Isabel Hurricane Rebuild Efforts (Nov. 6, 2017). Texas Appleseed and Bell Nunnally & Martin LLP are representing the Cameron County Housing Authority (CCHA), which has filed suit against the City of Port Isabel, the Port Isabel City Commission and the Port Isabel Planning and Zoning Commission (Defendants). The Complaint asserts that the Defendants violated federal fair housing and civil rights laws by blocking efforts to rebuild multi-family affordable housing after Hurricane Dolly struck. CCHA alleges these actions were motivated by concerns with the national origin and familial status of tenants, as their tenants are primarily Latino and families with children.
- Galveston Groundbreaking to Rebuild Low-Income Housing. On Sept. 10, 2014, a celebratory groundbreaking took place for two new low-income public housing developments originally destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008. Despite being met with stiff opposition, Texas Appleseed and our partner Texas Low Income Housing Information Service (TxLIHIS) worked with local housing and civil rights advocates, including the Galveston County Coalition for Justice, the Galveston Northside Taskforce, Gulf Coast Interfaith, LULAC and the NAACP, and negotiated a rebuilding plan with the City and the Housing Authority. Texas Appleseed and TxLIHIS also ensured that federal dollars were specifically earmarked to rebuild the housing. The Texas General Land Office and HUD strongly supported the rebuilding of the housing and were integral in helping uphold the civil rights of these citizens. Read more here.
- Conciliation Agreement. In 2010, Texas Appleseed and our partner, TxLIHIS, entered into a landmark Conciliation Agreement with the State of Texas in which the State agreed to comply with Fair Housing laws in allocating more than $3 billion in disaster recovery funds, and assuring historically underserved communities would get their fare share of the funds. As a result of this Conciliation Agreement, millions of dollars have flowed to these communities.
- With the Texas Organizing Project (TOP) and TxLIHIS, obtained an agreement with the Mayor of Houston that moved $30 million in disaster recovery funds to repairing single family homes.
- Worked in partnership with colonia residents, organizing groups and TRLA to obtain $14 million for badly needed drainage in the colonias, which suffered the worst Hurricane Dolly flooding and some of which had standing water for weeks after the storm.
- Our advocacy with local partners for rebuilding public housing in the City of Orange in safer and higher opportunity areas resulted in a plan to rebuild and move several developments to higher opportunity areas with less crime and better schools.