Homelessness is one of the most vexing public policy problems we face. If you live in a big city, especially on the West Coast, you literally face it every day. And every day, it seems to get worse. Why? And what can we do about it? Christopher Rufo, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has answers.
During my recent trip to Houston one of the houses that we “mudded out” (the term we use for gutting a house of all the wet furniture, appliances, possessions, drywall, flooring etc. of the homeowners) belonged to a widowed Hispanic woman named Mara.
Upon arriving at her home the first day I greeted Senora Mara with a very traditional greeting of Bendicio Senora Mara, como esta? Blessing to you Mrs. Mara how are you? she immediately began to cry and I thought I had said it wrong, but no those were tears of relief.
You see Senora Mara had felt (like so many others) completely isolated and alone since the flooding. She has family but they do not speak to her and her local church is small and without means it too was essentially wiped out by Hurricane Harvey. So we talked me in my badly broken Spanish and she in her quite understandable English. The highlight came when she and my wife (who is Puerto Rican) talked for nearly 30 minutes on the phone.
Unless you have experienced the loss of nearly all your life’s possessions it is hard to imagine or describe how Senora Mara felt as we systematically took piece after piece of her home apart and tossed it to the curb for the trash trucks to dispose of. All the while with no place to go she had to stay living in the home. Senora Mara turned out to be quite the trooper as she worked side by side with our team for 3 days as we ripped her house apart.
Like so many others she had no flood insurance, why you may ask, well she was not in a flood zone and not eligible. The area she lived in had never flooded so FEMA had not designated it a flood zone. Of course FEMA came to her Aid, NOT!! They sent her a letter saying she could get a low interest loan, really, how does a widow living on Social Security of under $700.00 qualify or afford that?
Senora Mara at diner and church with us one night after we finished her house.
So here is the deal I am trying to organize team(s) of volunteers to go back to Houston preferably before the New Year, to work on putting Senora Mara’s house back together. If you are available please email me and let me know, we will need to raise funds for materials, and food but I think I can secure us a place to bunk.
As many of you know Faith Builders Ministry deployed to Houston with Eight Days of Hope.
My first impression as a rapid responder was Houston was much like Denham Springs, LA last year in that the infrastructure was intact (Unlike Katrina in Hancock Co. Mississippi) but the internal damage was tremendous both to property and people.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside the volunteer men and women of eight days of Hope and look forward to rejoining them in a week**. The ministry is well organized and lead by folks who care first and foremost for the people in the community not the job of “mudding” out homes.
They plan on being in Houston until at least October 15th so if you are interested in volunteer opportunities or wish to make a donation see the link on right side of this website.
** Please note I have signed up to go to Puerto Rico, as we have still not heard from Naida’s mom (my mother-in-law) or any other relatives or our many friends in the Juncos area. This may affect my returning to Houston.
PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR AL THOSE AFFECTED BY THE HURRICANES, EARTHQUAKES ETC. AND ALL THE RELIEF WORKERS.