She convinced landlords to take in families who lost everything after Hurricane Harvey.
If you met Sara Brown two months ago — before Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas— she would have introduced herself as the Communications Manager for the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County.
These days, she’s hyper-focused on housing the most vulnerable, storm-impacted populations in Houston.
“They were low-resourced, poor, probably unemployed with no familial connections,” said Sara, who’s been working 12-hour days since Harvey hit. “They may have been staying with friends or family before Harvey and that relationship was strained for whatever reason after the storm — maybe they were crammed in a hotel room, and that would strain any relationship.”
Many aren’t eligible for FEMA assistance and don’t have flood insurance. But Sara was able to find 400 homes for survivors who had nowhere to go after the storm.
She recruits landlords in Houston to let Harvey survivors rent their apartments for at least six-months via Coalition-provided rental coupons. Sara will never forget finding her first apartment for a family with a small child.
“Word came in that they were approved. There was lots of screaming and lots of crying, and I told myself, ‘You’re going to hold it together. You’re going to not cry right now,’” Sara remembered.
By late October, a single mass shelter for Hurricane Harvey survivors remained in Houston. It was set up inside a shuttered Macy’s in a mall on the edge of the city.
Sara spent a lot of time there, determined to find apartments for as many people at the shelter as she could, as quickly as she could.
“I think of about how I’ve struggled to deal with the hurricane and aftermath as someone who is pretty well-resourced. I have support systems. So, to just be able to help people take that first step to getting back to some kind of normalcy — whether it’s now their kids can go to school again, now they can get employment again — it’s just been so incredible. It really has,” she said.
This is a story from GlobalGiving’s “After the Storm” series.