The Harris County Housing Authority has been honored by the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials for successfully elevating housing issues in the national media in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.
Specifically, the award recognizes the HCHA’s success in educating the public about the severity of damage the storm caused to housing across the region, and set the stage to discuss funding and interim solutions to provide shelter to those in need.
According to HCHA Executive Director Guy Rankin, media outreach was a direct result of the innovative thinking put in place by the agency to conduct a damage assessment initiative after the storm made landfall in September of last year.
“After the results were analyzed, we knew it was important to share the magnitude of the damage,” Rankin said. “This region was in need of significant federal relief and it was important to communicate that to the American public. Due to the dominance of the economy in the media, most people were not aware of the extent of damage residents along the Texas coastline faced.”
The results of the assessment showed Ike was one of the costliest storms in history, causing $8.2 billion in residential damage in Harris County alone. The storm left 6,700 residential units uninhabitable and displaced 18,700 residents.
After communicating the initial results on a national scale, the HCHA continued with Phase II of the study and produced the final results just two months later. With Phase II complete, the housing authority again led a media effort that kept the cost of the damage on the national agenda.
The public was also made aware of the unique methodologies that were used to estimate future housing needs. As a result, the damage assessment study is now a model that can be implemented across the nation in the wake of future natural disasters.
The Texas NAHRO Awards program recognizes the achievements and innovations of its members throughout the state, bringing regional attention to the notable efforts in housing and community development activities.