The Texas Familias Council was developed from the Texas Latino Leadership Roundtable in 2010 by local Latino leaders in response to the tremendous growth of the Latino Community in Montgomery County.
Maria Banos Jordan, President and Founder of Texas Familias Council, said after working for several years in Montgomery County, the Council was “formerly” founded in 2011.
Banos Jordan said in the last four years, she started to focus more of her efforts in East Montgomery County because of the growth of the Hispanic population.
“We had been doing a lot of development programs between Conroe and the Cut-and-Shoot area; there are different enclaves we have been working with with the Hispanic community,” said Banos Jordan. We also work with non-profits; most of them are located in Conroe.”
Banos Jordan originally came to work in Montgomery County through United Way, and said that’s how she first developed those relationships.
Banos Jordan said the reason she founded Texas Familias Council was the census in 2010, which affirmed what she and others working in the communities realized; the population demographics were changing very rapidly.
“The Latino community had grown significantly, especially in outlying areas of Houston, and it really spoke to the need of engaging these families in these communities, and getting them more involved and connected to the community. Following the census, we went ahead and formally launched this in order to support the progress of families and connect resources to communities to provide people the opportunities for growth,” said Banos Jordan.
Since Hurricane Harvey happened, Banos Jordan said they’ve learned more about the flooded areas and the ability to coordinate resources and the response to a disaster.
“We were still in recovery from Harvey, especially in East County because it got hit a lot with the flooding, and then Imelda hit, plus we had a couple of other floods in between in May. “Since Imelda hit at the end of September, I have been out in some of the communities in the New Caney area that suffered severe flooding.”
Banos Jordan said she has also gone to those particular communities because four years ago, she started doing some development work with them.
“A lot of them are first-generation Americans, so they’ve been in the country maybe ten years or less. A lot of them have moved out here from Houston, looking for a more comfortable, safer life for their children and their families, but they didn’t realize the landscape of the waterways and where they’re situated. There’s been some dubious selling of properties in parts of East Montgomery County, so a lot of immigrant communities find themselves signing contracts for properties that they shouldn’t be purchasing.”
Banos Jordan said a couple of days after Imelda hit, they went out and started to assess the damage.
“It’s very tragic because most of these families already have very little; a lot of them (houses) are second-hand trailer homes, and some of them are very fragile homes that are in the process of still being built.”
Banos Jordan said for the last three months she has put her other initiatives on hold to address the disaster recovery.
The Texas Familias Council is currently working with close to 100 families in the New Caney area, with different levels of need, following Imelda.
Banos Jordan said she suspects there’s a lot of people who still don’t want to ask for help.
“They kind of wait until they use up their own resources and then they get to a point of desperation because they realize it’s not getting any better and they need help.”
Banos Jordan said some of the residents she’s working with who were flooded are back in their homes, but what they found is that even with Harvey (Hurricane) people got back in their homes when they really shouldn’t have.
Banos Jordan said about half of the people she’s working with in East County were affected by Harvey and Imelda.
“What’s interesting is, from Montgomery County and onto Liberty County, there’s so many people moving into these communities, that even from Harvey to here, I was encountering lots of new people who had lived in the area less than a year.” They were totally taken off guard. The ones who have suffered Harvey kind of already understood the process. So it’s becoming sadly a new normal until they can figure out if they’re going to continue living this way, is there a solution or will they have to move on.”
The Texas Familias Council in December held the “Texas Hope Consortium, in which Community Resource Professionals discussed regional growth, community diversity and helping underserved families in East County.
For more information on the Texas Familias Council, go to:
Montgomery County Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts gave an update on disaster recovery efforts in East Montgomery County. $15-million dollars of damage was done in East County because of Tropical Storm Imeda.
“It doesn’t look like we’re going to get any help from FEMA in regards to funding for that, so we’re moving forward as we can with the funds we have out of our department. We are making progress, but it is certainly a setback, said Metts. We had 1842 homes that flooded over there.”
Metts said they’re also working with County Attorney B.D. Griffin on doing one-year drainage easements.
“This will help in cleaning out some of the outfalls. I’m going to do the ones that I can out of my budget, but for the larger ones we’re working on grants for those as well to help desnag some of these areas, and go in and clean out these outfalls that have had nothing done to them and were maintained for over 16 years.”
Metts said it’s his understanding that the County met the FEMA criteria relating to the amount of damage done from the storm, but other areas in the state did not.
“There were 13 counties, and it has to be a collective effort, everybody together, to be able to meet that criteria. That’s what I’m told is why it didn’t happen.” But we’re working on grants, and there are other grants that have come down, from the GLO (General Land Office) and others.”
In the River Oaks subdivision off of Highway 242, that suffered damage from Imelda, Metts said work is being done with Amani Engineering through a grant that was approved.
“What had happened in there in years past, the underground where your water flows and does the drainage, it collapsed over time and caused serious drainage issues there, said Metts. For the past 16 years, they’ve had to take a pump over there every time it rains and pump the water out to help keep the street and some others from being flooded.” Now we have the grant that’s approved and everything is moving forward, actually ahead of schedule, and they hopefully will be starting construction soon.” We expect by the summer to go in and improve this, and it will certainly improve the quality of life for all the folks in that area there, and make it safer and help with the flooding issues.”
Metts said they also added an additional stop sign in that subdivision, which he said may sound minor, but it’s helping to control the traffic as the school children in that area cross the streets.
“We are mindful of their needs over there. It’s just been a burden on taxpayers having to go pump this all these years, and we’re grateful that we finally got this grant to go help the folks out in that area.”