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In December 2017, the T.L.L. Temple Foundation provided Rural LISC with a generous grant to support disaster recovery efforts in rural communities across southeastern Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The storm inflicted over $125 billion in damage, tying with Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical hurricane on record. With this grant, Rural LISC will work with local partners to provide recovery and resiliency assistance in the areas of economic development, water and sewer infrastructure, housing rehabilitation and replacement, and voluntary relocation.
“Harvey’s ferocity devastated much of rural southeastern Texas,” said LISC Vice President and Rural LISC Director Suzanne Anarde. “The T.L.L. Temple Foundation’s support has truly been a catalyst to our recovery efforts. It’s galvanizing desperately needed relief and rebuilding efforts, deployed through Rural LISC’s partners on the ground – repairing infrastructure, generating new affordable housing, boosting local economies – activities that will impact the lives of countless individuals and families, leaving rural Texas communities stronger than before. We could not be more proud to partner with the T.L.L. Temple Foundation.”
The T.L.L. Temple Foundation is a family foundation serving 23 counties in East Texas as well as one county in Arkansas. (See map below.) This service area, home to 5.7 million people, is largely rural and faces high rates of poverty and unemployment, low educational attainment, and poor health outcomes. Yet these communities also have numerous assets on which to build, like rich biodiversity, a strong cultural heritage and dedicated community leaders. Since it was established in 1962, the T.L.L. Temple Foundation has invested more than $440 million in the areas of education, economic development, community revitalization, health, human services, arts and culture, and conservation and the environment. The T.L.L. Temple Foundation is committed to working alongside families and communities to build a thriving Deep East Texas and to alleviate poverty, creating access and opportunities for all.
According to Wynn Rosser, president and chief executive officer of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, “Improving the quality of life in rural East Texas communities is at the core of the foundation’s mission. Rural LISC’s approach to ensure safe water and wastewater systems, to support economic development, and to return residents to quality housing is representative of the work necessary to sustain thriving communities.”
Harvey’s destructive march across southeastern Texas in August and September of last year will have long-term impacts on communities in the region. Forty-two out of 252 Texas counties were impacted by Harvey, and 45 percent of those hurricane-impacted counties are rural. Rural LISC’s Hurricane Response Team has spent months assessing where the highest rural needs lie, both in terms of financial resources and organizational capacity.
Thanks to the T.L.L. Temple Foundation’s grant, Rural LISC will be supporting the capacity building efforts of our partner organization, Communities Unlimited (CU), which also works in Texas. CU’s work encompasses community sustainability, environmental, infrastructure, wealth building and small business development. With the T.L.L. Temple Foundation’s grant, Rural LISC will support CU in assessing immediate and long-term needs in these areas to determine a collaborative strategy for recovery and resiliency, and facilitating the repair and replacement of damaged water and sewer systems in affected rural Texas communities.
The T.L.L. Temple Foundation will also support Rural LISC in providing technical assistance to two to three Texas community-based housing organizations to develop and implement programmatic approaches to housing rehabilitation, remediation, relocation and new construction, enabling families to remain in their communities and schools. Rural LISC’s Hurricane Response Team has identified two organizations with housing development expertise, Legacy CDC and Covenant Community Capital, that will complement CU’s focus on economic development and environmental and infrastructure challenges. Legacy will work in the communities of Orange and Nome while Covenant Capital will work in Shepherd and Patton Village. Rural LISC also hopes to add a community based organization in the Fort Bend region.
Rural LISC has a long history supporting rural communities recovering from natural disasters, including tornadoes, floods and hurricanes. With its extensive experience in multi- and single-family housing, community facilities and infrastructure, Rural LISC has been able to aid communities throughout the long recovery process associated with disasters like hurricanes Katrina and Rita, assisting with rebuilding, relocation and the development of greater durability, leaving communities stronger and more resilient.
“The extraordinary investment made by the T.L.L. Temple Foundation will make a huge difference in the lives of East Texas residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and Rural LISC is honored to be a part of this great recovery work,” Anarde said.
Visit the T.L.L. Temple Foundation's website for more information.