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Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Fund

A year ago, the remnants of Hurricane Harvey dropped over 45 inches of rain on the Houston Area over a four-day period. The additional overflow of two reservoirs outside of Harris County caused nearly 30% of the city to be covered in floodwaters affecting more than 4.5 million residents. This unprecedented amount of rainfall surpassed the 1,000-year flood plain, shutting down, damaging and/or destroying businesses and homes across Houston. Leaving death and destruction in its wake, Hurricane Harvey’s economic devastation was pervasive, and the social impact was immeasurable. 

Within days, Change Happens! stepped in to support those most in need.

When There is a Need, Change Happens! Steps Up

Shortly after Harvey made landfall, Change Happens! leadership decided the agency should have a larger presence in disaster relief efforts. Upon reopening its offices days after the storm, Change Happens! began coordinating a relief response team that could serve as a "beacon of hope" for the community. On September 1st, 2017, Change Happens! officially formed the Harvey Relief Fund and identified staff to serve on a Disaster Relief Committee. Disaster relief services were launched to support the families hit hardest by Hurricane Harvey, prioritizing the most vulnerable, including our own affected staff members, program participants, and residents of the Third Ward community. In the process, the committee determined funding would best be used for two purposes:

1. To provide immediate financial assistance in the form of rental subsidies and to replace essential items lost, such as clothing, home goods, and food.

2. To develop a "After Harvey Resource Drive" to help families make ends meet long after the storm.

Fundraising Efforts

Change Happens! staff engaged in an array of fundraising efforts following Hurricane Harvey, including collecting funds internally, campaigning for individual and corporate donations, and applying for grant funding. When Change Happens! learned of families residing in shelters, the Rescue In Motion Homeless Outreach staff applied for and was awarded $75,000 from The Way Home Rapid Relief Housing fund to offer transitional housing and case management services to 75 families. Recognizing the increased risks for people living with HIV post-Harvey, the HIV Prevention staff applied for and received $25,000 in funding from AIDS United and The Elton John Foundation to provide financial assistance and referrals to affected individuals. Additionally, Change Happens! launched an online fundraising campaign that helped to raise an additional $75,000, $50,000 of which came from key corporate partners.

The Impact

To date, Change Happens! has raised over $170,000 to support the needs of the community after the storm. As a result of applications submitted, the Change Happens! Disaster Relief Committee identified over 85 families (272 unduplicated individuals) severely affected by Hurricane Harvey and provided each with $500 in financial assistance. Likewise, 14 families were approved for extended funding (additional financial assistance) to ensure they could remain housed after Federal FEMA subsidies ended. In a Harvey Relief follow-up survey sent out to fund recipients, respondents reported using the funds for food, water, food-related appliances, transportation, clothing, and medical expenses. 

I appreciate the disaster relief funds from Change Happens! Besides having to relocate, I developed an allergy that needs constant medication. With assistance, I was able to afford some medications and pay my rent. Thank you very, very much for your assistance in my time of need. I hope [you] continue to help during these perilous times.


 — Anonymous Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund Recipient

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Apply For Assistance

Change Happens! has received continued funding to support the needs of the community affected by the storm through a grant with GILEAD. Due to a generous donation from AIDS United and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Change Happens is able to cover costs of essential items for those negatively impacted by Harvey. This program targets individuals affected by Hurricane Harvey living with HIV/AIDS or are at high risk for contracting HIV. To apply for the program, eligible applicants must:

  • Be a person living HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) or at-risk of HIV

  • Be impacted by Hurricane Harvey and lived in disaster area

  • Show valid identification (state/government issued identification

  • Show documentation of storm damage or HIV/AIDS status, as requested

  • Be in need of items/assistance necessary for survival and/or reasonable quality of life such as food, transportation, furniture, clothing, and shelter assistance.

The maximum amount of funding per family/individual is $250 - $500. All awards will be issued in the form of a check on a first come, first serve basis. If approved, the applicant must visit Change Happens! on 3353 Elgin Street to verify identity and complete forms. Please contact Change Happens! at if you have any questions.