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What you need to know about the new Houston and Harris County winter storm relief fund

HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced the Greater Houston 2021 Winter Storm Relief Fund in a news conference last Monday.

Turner said Hidalgo could not be at the news conference, but the relief fund is a joint effort between the city and the county.

The fund will focus on relief and recovery efforts across the City of Houston and Harris County. The Greater Houston Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Houston will jointly oversee and administer the grant distribution process with the help of a grants committee.

According to Turner, the funds will focus on meeting the unmet needs of families who need additional help in the recovery process and “supporting nonprofits who can help with plumbing and home repair, temporary housing and other basic needs.”

“The fund is dedicated to filling in the gaps that may not be met by other local and federal efforts,” Turner said. “...We learned after Hurricane Harvey that there were a lot of unmet needs. While people wait on federal assistance, there needs to be a relief fund that steps in to meet the gap.”

Turner said during the news conference that he is asking people and businesses in the city to please step up for fellow Houstonias and donate to any extent they can because every dollar counts.

People can donate at winterstormrelieffund.org, Turner said.

Here are other things you need to know about the fund:

  • Guiding principles for the fund include: Meet unmet needs for the vulnerable, focus on transparency about the process and urgency and expediency for distributing dollars to the community.
  • Consideration will also be made for organizations that effectively serve hard-to-reach, vulnerable communities, including organizations led by people of color and grassroots organizations that may have a shorter history of performance.
  • People who need help with basic needs and resources are encouraged to call 211. Residents can also text “HoustonFreeze” to 898211 for more information about the new fund. If you text that number, you will also receive a text on how to apply as soon as more information on funding eligibility and criteria becomes available.
  • Impacted families are encouraged to apply for FEMA assistance.

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