Hurricane Harvey Update: September 2017
Through volunteer support and the generosity of both local and national LGBTQ communities and its allies, the Montrose Center was able to gather significant resources for LGBTQ Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Fund. We want to thank you for your support and share this update on how your contributions continue to make such a huge impact on LGBTQ lives as they rebuild.
As the 5th largest LGBTQ center in the nation and more than 35,000 clients in core programming, the Montrose Center learned very quickly of staff and community members who lost everything to Hurricane Harvey.
Center staff began calling to check on clients one day after the storm and opened its doors as a response center three days after the storm hit. The experience and strength of the Center as a community hub enabled us to provide immediate response to the most vulnerable members of our community.
As reported by BuzzFeed,
“Nine days after the floods began, 32-year-old Brandon Williams was at the Center on Monday receiving aid for the first time since evacuating his home last week. He doesn’t know a lot of people in Houston (he moved here recently from St. Louis), and he doesn’t know of any other city services that couald help him.
‘You just feel kind of discarded,’ said Williams. ‘I’ve been basically homeless. It’s embarrassing to say.’
But he said he heard from acquaintances that the Montrose Center was helping people get basic supplies and find services.”
Case managers at the Montrose Center are helping people just like Brandon with immediate needs like food and shelter but have also begun to support people with direct financial assistance as they begin to put their lives back together in the coming year. This is how:
As Houston’s LGBTQ Center, we have been inundated with love and support in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. We are humbled and honored by the support of so many, who have made donations to the Hurricane Harvey LGBTQ Disaster Relief Fund that will help community members rebuild their lives in the coming weeks and months.
Huge thanks go out to the celebrities who helped bring attention to our cause. People like Hillary Clinton, who emailed about our fund. Celebrities like Jack Antonoff, Ruby Rose, Lena Dunham , Tig Notaro & more, who pledged donations and encouraged others to do the same.
Sadly, Ruby Rose and others received backlash from some people, who don’t understand why the LGBTQ community needs extra support in the face of natural disasters. To read the Huffington Post’s article about the backlash, and Ruby Rose’s response to it, please click here.
Rather than be upset by their comments, we thought we’d take the opportunity to educate about our community’s particular needs.
Why are culturally competent, allocated resources for the LGBTQ community necessary?
LGBTQ youth experience high rates of homelessness, making it more difficult to reach them during an emergency.
High rates of isolation for LGBTQ seniors means they are more likely to be alone, and less likely to have familial resources that can support receiving emergency messages and accessing resources.
Access to HIV medication or hormones can be limited or nonexistent as providers are unavailable or undervalue the importance of maintaining these regimens and shelter accommodations are often not compliant with appropriately affirming gender identity.
The LGBTQ population also has a significant lack of trust with emergency responders and health care systems that have discriminated against them before.
Nontraditional structures of families are frequently disrespected by emergency or recovery services resulting in families that become separated or are unable to access appropriate resources.
That’s where we step in.
The Montrose Center’s Hurricane Harvey LGBTQ Disaster Relief Fund is designed to provide services to those that are traditionally overlooked and have unique needs. The management of these allocated resources by a trusted community institution that understands the needs of this population is imperative.
The Relief Fund will be used to help individuals and families begin to rebuild their lives through direct assistance with shelf stable food, furniture, housing assistance and more. The Center’s dedicated case management team is on call to coordinate support for homeless youth, seniors, people living with HIV, hate crime survivors, Center staff, and those devastated by the storm.
How you can help
For updates about our in-kind and volunteer needs, please click here.