HOUSTON – Some people living in historically Black, gentrifying neighborhoods like Independence Heights face special challenges when it comes to maintaining their homes, especially after a natural disaster.
Rebuilding Together Houston is one organization helping to cushion the blow.
”Five years ago, she wasn’t here,” said retired 66-year-old native Houstonian, Howard Gaynor, about his 11-month-old daughter, Neveah.
His mind is at ease knowing he’ll be able to leave her part of his legacy.
”Today, she has a beautiful room. She has a home that later she can always have,” Gaynor said.
A home that was saved after Hurricane Harvey almost destroyed it, but Rebuilding Together Houston stepped in to help.
”We were fortunate enough immediately after Harvey, one of our very best donors stepped in, Citgo Petroleum, and made a multi-million dollar gift and they wanted us to focus specifically in Independence Heights,” said CEO Christine Holland.
Such support made renovations to homes like Gaynor’s possible.
”We repaired over 90 houses in this neighborhood,” she said. “A lot of these houses are in the range of 80 years old. It’s a very historic Black neighborhood with a lot of history.”
More than just repairing homes after natural disasters, the 501 c3 works year-round to make them more resilient against future storms, helping to lessen the need for help when damaging weather takes its toll.
”We didn’t say we’re only going to fix what did. We said this is a golden opportunity to turn a disaster into a blessing and look at these homes and repair everything in the homes we possibly can,” Holland said.
Since the non-profit began 40 years ago, Holland said there have been 300,000 volunteers who’ve helped with tasks like painting, as well as numerous small business contractors, and a multitude of generous donors who’ve stepped in to uphold the mission of preventing low-income families from being displaced, but there are challenges.
”We really need more financial contributions to make that happen. Last year, we served 433 families. I’m confident we could serve a thousand a year,” Holland said.
Gaynor said he and his daughter are here to stay.
Anyone interested in learning more about Rebuilding Together Houston, whether it be to get help or help, can visit RebuildingTogetherHouston.org.