TOP Ed Fund Statement on Harvey Community Relief Fund
The following is a statement by Michelle Tremillo, executive director of the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund, in response to inquiries about the Harvey Community Relief Fund:
“We want to be clear on a key point about the Harvey Community Relief Fund, which is being housed within the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund: We have an ironclad commitment that 100 percent of the money raised into this fund will be spent directly on ensuring low income and people of color are not forgotten in the relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts. Not a dime will be spent on any other purpose.
“We and our allies intend to make sure that our communities are at the forefront of the recovery process, and that they get the resources they need to rebuild their lives. We will make a determination about which relief efforts in particular to dedicate this funding after the floods recede. Our expenditures will be dictated by the needs of our communities, and we anticipate those needs will range from personal hygiene items to legal aid and advocacy.
“One year after Hurricane Ike, low-income neighborhoods remained dotted with blue tarps and damaged homes without hope for assistance to rebuild. The money was on its way elsewhere. After the Tax Day Flood of 2016, people in Houston’s Greenspoint neighborhood were being forced by their landlords to pay rent on apartments that were uninhabitable.
“These memories were on our minds when we joined our allies in forming the Harvey Community Relief Fund earlier this week.
“We know from experience that after the rescues are done and people leave the shelters, the communities where we organize, low income African American and Latino neighborhoods, are not foremost on the minds of people leading the reconstruction efforts. We know from experience that after natural disasters our communities are easily forgotten and marginalized, as they are even on good days.
“We thank our local and national allies who know our work and have expressed their trust in us and our partners by promoting this fund to their networks. Unequivocally, every penny given to this fund will be spent on making the communities impacted by Harvey whole again. We are committed to being transparent about our expenditures as the process unfolds and will make ourselves accountable to the communities this fund will serve.
“In an ideal world, a fund to organize low-income communities of color would not be needed, but this is the reality we live in. We’ve got our sleeves rolled up and are ready to rebuild. Shame on anyone who tries to exploit this disaster for political gain by implying anything else.”
Texas Organizing Project Education Fund organizes Black and Latino communities in Harris, Bexar and Dallas counties. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.