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These lawyers are helping low-income people navigate the complicated process of post-disaster recovery

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23.09.2021

Years after Hurricane Harvey slammed parts of Houston with more than 50 inches of rain in 2017, causing devastating flooding and more than 80 deaths, many Texans still have not fully recovered. Officials launched the Harvey Homeowner Assistance Program to help those affected repair and rebuilt their houses, but many are still waiting for the promised aid to appear. By August 2020, the program, then run by the city of Houston, had finished rebuilding fewer than 70 homes. In the summer of 2021, a state agency took over, but it was still plagued with issues, including complaints that the program downsized people’s homes from what they were living in pre-Harvey.

One resident, Joe (who asked to go by a pseudonym because of how precarious his housing situation still is), is one of them. When Hurricane Harvey hit, water was flowing through his one-story house “like a river;” when the rain stopped, mold bloomed on his walls and ceiling. Initially, the state program said it would rebuild Joe a two-bedroom house, though he originally had three bedrooms. The program was never meant to exactly replicate homes, officials had told the Houston Chronicle, but to fill needs not met by insurance and, as one state representative put it, to “keep you one step from being homeless.” But Joe, who is blind and has kidney problems, needs a live-in nurse. His son also lives with him, and did so at the time Harvey hit. (Since the pandemic began, his other son has also moved in with him after losing his job.) Two bedrooms were not enough to meet his........

© Fast Company


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