The City of Houston and Harris County have teamed up to create a relief fund that aims to help residents of the region recover from last week's winter storm.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Monday that the Houston Harris County 2021 Winter Storm Relief Fund will focus on helping the region's most vulnerable residents repair their homes. Prolonged freezing weather last week, coupled with extended power outages, caused water pipes to burst at many homes.
"We cannot forget about the people who feel like they have been left behind and in the dark while the rest of the area is moving on, or at least attempting to move forward," Turner said during a Monday afternoon news conference. "Many have homes that are uninhabitable."
Online donations to the fund can be made at winterstormrelieffund.org.
Residents in need of assistance can call 211 or text "HoustonFreeze" to 898211, while Spanish-speaking residents can text "HoustonAyuda" to 898211. When assistance is available, the city said those residents will be contacted with information about eligibility requirements and how to apply.
The city also encouraged impacted residents to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance at https://www.disasterassistance.gov.
The Greater Houston Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Houston have been tasked with managing the local relief fund, which will provide grants to smaller nonprofit organizations that can help residents. The fund also has an advisory board consisting of corporate and community leaders, with CenterPoint Energy CEO Dave Lesar serving as chair of the board.
Heights resident Amanda McMillian, the president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Houston, said the fund aims to help community members whose needs are not met by other forms of government assistance.
"We want to fill the gaps, we want to do it with speed and we want to do it with transparency," McMillian said.
The city also encouraged residents with homes damaged during the winter storm to submit "Personal Property Damage Reporting" forms to the city, which will help the city accurately convey the scope of the damage as it seeks state and federal assistance. Damage forms are available in English at http://bit.ly/damagereporten and in Spanish at http://bit.ly/damagereportes.
Submitting such forms is not a means of requesting aid, according to the city.
Regarding the relief fund, Turner asked those who are able to contribute.
"I want to encourage everyone who wan, particularly corporate leaders and business leaders and of course philanthropic people, please, please donate," he said.