Mr. and Mrs. Zavala in the Northside region also qualified to have their home completely rebuilt through the Harvey Homeowner Assistance Program. They began the application process earlier this year and are now getting to see their house demolished and rebuilt. The new home will be elevated to prevent from future flooding. Meanwhile, the Zavala family remains active in their community, supporting their neighbors through Harvey recovery and participating in events with their civil organizations. They remain enthusiastic about their construction. They have all but adopted their housing specialist, Nancy, and have promised to make tamales for a party to celebrate reconstruction.
Emma Wood (81) has lived in her house in South Park for 50 years. Now, she’s about to get a new one. Hurricane Harvey devastated Ms. Wood’s home and made it difficult for her to continue with her way of life. Even after turning to many different organizations, no one could get Ms. Wood the help she needed. Then she learned about Build it Forward Houston and qualified to receive aid.
Ms. Wood will get a newly constructed, elevated home, where she and her son can live safely, without worrying about future flooding. Demolition on Ms. Wood’s home began July 31, and she received her keys to the new home on August 23. “I never thought I’d get a house like this at my age,” says Wood. She agrees that the long process was worth it. “You have to be patient, but stick with it.” Soon, she’ll be able to get back to the parts of life she enjoys, like caring for the elderly and baking for her church community. She is among the first set of homeowners to begin the process of reconstruction.
Soon after Hurricane Harvey, the City of Houston realized that we weren’t seeing the full picture of damages. Our metrics under-counted and excluded people that already weren’t getting help. So, the Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD) worked with Civis Analytics, Dewberry Engineers, and Knudson, LP, to build a data platform that better shows the impact of Hurricane Harvey on Houstonians.
Between May and June 2018, we organized 17 public meetings, 8 focus groups, 7 presentations, a tele-town hall, and a public survey. Altogether, we heard from about 4500 Houston residents. Feedback from residents helps HCDD define our strategy going forward.