Dear West Street Recovery Contributors,
As we approach the one year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, we want to convey our deepest gratitude to everyone who has donated to our recovery efforts. Hurricane Harvey caused unprecedented damage and the progress we have made for families would not have been possible without inspirational levels of enthusiasm and generosity from all of you. We know that with multiple interrelated crises unfolding across the world, there are many worthy causes that you could support. Furthermore, even if Harvey recovery was your only area of interest, there are dozens of wonderful organizations working to help Houstonians recover. With this in mind, we are especially thankful that you have trusted West Street to do this important work.
West Street Recovery is still working to help residents of Northeast Houston recover. We are now working with 161 families, most of who are people of color living with modest means, and all of whom are still facing serious barriers to fully recovering from the storm. Over the last year, we have refined our approach to become more focused and efficient while still maintaining our deep connections to the communities we work with, a commitment to antiracism, and a horizontal structure that reflects the world we want to help to create.
Today, we have three main programs: case management, rebuilding homes, and advocacy efforts. Our case management teams are working to help residents navigate some of the most difficult bureaucratic processes like appealing FEMA decisions, corresponding with insurance providers, and helping people apply for home repair programs administered by some of the biggest charities in Houston like Baker Ripley and Habitat for Humanity. Our rebuild program has carried out small projects in over 30 houses. We use a combination of black and brown contractors, volunteers and West Street staff to take on projects like rebuilding one bedroom for a family, tiling a kitchen with flood proof materials, installing cabinets, and repairing bathrooms. We would love to rebuild entire homes, but due to our limited resources, we can only spend $1,500 in each home. Any of you who owns a home knows that when an entire house has been flooded this only begins to make a dent. Although the scope of our rebuilds is small, these projects play a huge role in helping us build trust with and befriend the families we serve. These relationships allow us to be more effective case managers and enable us to include families in our advocacy work. Our advocacy and organizing efforts are rooted in the idea that the families who were affected by Harvey must have a say in how recovery dollars are spent and how rebuilding programs are administered. Through this effort we have tracked the failures of the PREPS program, brought residents, and West Street staff to testify at the Texas Capitol, held press conferences where residents called upon the city and state to improve protections, and connected residents to strong community-based organizations like Texas Organizing Project and Texas Housers, who have long track records of championing policy changes that bring investment to the poorest parts of Houston. We believe that unless the voices of marginalized people are elevated, they will continue to suffer the worst impacts of our changing climate and benefit least from recovery efforts.
No matter how much you have given us in the past, we want you to know that none of this work would have been possible without your generous donations. We are excited to say that with our impending 501c3 status, we are now eligible to issue receipts for charitable donations which we were not able to do in the past. Because many of the families we work with continue to need assistance throughout the recovery process, we are still in need of financial support. Checks can be made out to West Street Recovery and mailed to 1707 West Street, Houston Texas 77016. If you wish for your donation to be spent on something specific ( for example, roofing materials, staff costs or travel expenses for residents) please indicate this in the memo line. If mailing a check seems like a hassle you can make a donation here.
If you have any questions or want to discuss the logistics of or restrictions on your donation, feel free to contact our Director of Partnerships and Development, Ben, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 737-932-3179. If you would like to volunteer or support us in other ways, please email our general inbox at email@example.com.
From all of us at West Street,
Thank you for your continued support.