Pro Bono News

Two Years After Hurricane Harvey, One Group Says It Has Been Overlooked: Renters (TX)

Friday, October 11, 2019

Two Years After Hurricane Harvey, One Group Says It Has Been Overlook: Renters

"VICTORIA, Texas — The State of Texas has been disbursing $5 billion in federal dollars to help repair homes, businesses and infrastructure damaged in Hurricane Harvey in August 2017.

Ruth Ortiz will get none of it. She and her lawyers say the Harvey recovery has discriminated against flood victims like her: renters.

Ms. Ortiz, 36, was renting a two-story home in Victoria when Harvey made landfall 65 miles to the south. High winds blew out the windows as rainwater poured in, ruining her furniture. She lost just about everything, and two years later, she is still struggling, moving from place to place, paying off her credit-card debt and caring for her 14-year-old son, who has a brain tumor, all on her dental assistant’s salary.

She received some immediate federal assistance in the weeks following Harvey — nearly $2,400 total to regain her footing after surviving the worst rainstorm in United States history. It was all the recovery money she received.

“I just felt left behind,” Ms. Ortiz said. “Knowing that there’s help out there, it’s just sad.”

After floods, hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters, the government resources, the public attention and the news media coverage often focus on homeowners. The tally of a disaster’s destruction is measured largely in terms of the number of deaths and the number of homes lost..."

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