Hear Us: The Climate Crisis Demands Race-Intentional Co-Governance – Next City – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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Op-Ed: Grassroots organizers in Texas offer a blueprint for cementing equity into local recovery efforts.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Hear Us” is a column series that features experts of color and their insights on issues related to the economy and racial justice. Follow us here and at #HearUs4Justice.

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey killed 68 Texans, 36 of them in hard-hit Harris County, which includes Houston. The storm displaced 30,000 people and destroyed more than 200,000 homes and businesses. Despite congressional approval for $4.3 billion in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds to rebuild, low-income Texans of color received significantly less than their wealthy white neighbors. Because FEMA’s assessments used a cost-benefit analysis that tends to prioritize areas with higher property values, white neighborhoods with more expensive homes received the most funding. The average Black resident of a low-income Houston neighborhood received $84 in FEMA funds, while the average white resident of a high-income neighborhood received $60,000.

Though the federal government provides the majority of recovery funding during a crisis, state and local governments have considerable power in determining how to spend it. Organizers from the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), a grassroots non-profit organization in Harris County, have been working to change the balance of power in the coun


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