July 10, 2018

Rebuilding Homes and Futures – Together  

The 2018 hurricane season has begun. There is no time to waste: affordable housing across the nation is at risk from extreme weather events and natural hazards. Mitigation and preparation are imperative – especially for low-income communities, where much of the housing stock needs more support to withstand weather shock.  

Last year’s multiple natural disasters marked a turning point for the nation. The 2017 hurricanes and fires that battered Texas, Northern California, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands caused a tragic loss of life and were the costliest climate events on record. Enterprise responded by standing up a housing-focused emergency fund to support our partners in crisis. With support from The JPB Foundation and Cathay Bank, the Enterprise Hurricane Recovery Fund distributed grants totaling nearly $1 million to 28 nonprofits in 2017 and provided technical support to dozens more organizations.  

In a time of need, we reached out quickly, partnering with local leaders on the ground to understand and identify their existing assets and unique needs. We continue to support these organizations for the long term because recovery is not a moment – it’s a journey, and Enterprise is in it for the long haul. 

When we support housing organizations, innovative housing and service models become possible, making a real difference for families like Scenacia Jones and her children in Houston. Ten months after Hurricane Harvey roared across the Texas Gulf Coast, they will move into their new home this summer. They lost everything during Harvey, but thanks to our partners and grantees, buildingcommunityWorkshop and Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, the Jones family will be the first recipients of RAPIDO, a temp-to-permanent housing system being piloted in Houston.  

During a natural disaster, many of our partners are called to perform first-responder functions for the most vulnerable residents in their communities. As Chris Kui, former executive director of Asian Americans for Equality in New York, has said: “In crisis, housing organizations become social firehouses.” While not always prepared to fill these roles, housing and community development organizations can be uniquely positioned to carry them out.  

The Enterprise Hurricane Recovery Fund helps organizations remain operational despite myriad unanticipated costs and extended delays – such as providing relief services to residents or awaiting payment from insurers or FEMA. We understand what our partners need and we’re amplifying their stories. Their stories drive our advocacy efforts to shape how federal dollars are used to rebuild communities, and shape the technical resources we create so communities have the tools to promote disaster readiness and preparedness.  

We know from our experience working in the Gulf Coast after Katrina and in New York and New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy – and the many storms and floods in between – that low-income families often have the hardest time responding to the loss of shelter, power and vital services caused by flooding, fires and other climate disasters. We also know that rebuilding smarter, more resilient communities begins on the ground, in partnership. I’ve seen the collaboration and dedication first-hand during recent trips to Puerto Rico, where Enterprise has joined forces with local organizations to create a tool and training program that will guide affordable housing owners, designers and developers in creating greater access to safe, resilient housing in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Mitigation strategies can protect communities against the effects of natural hazards. Please join Enterprise in helping create emergency-ready communities by donating to the Enterprise Hurricane Recovery Fund. Together, we can prevent the heartbreaking loss, upheaval and dislocation caused by natural disasters.