In communities across Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, REALTOR® associations are distributing hurricane relief aid and issuing grants to help those affected rebuild their lives. REALTOR® associations across the nation that have sent tens of thousands of dollars in donations and relief supplies have helped make this possible.
In the first two weeks following the hurricanes, the National Association’s REALTORS® Relief Foundation collected more than $1.8 million from state and local associations, members, and others. “The National Association of REALTORS® wants our members and the consumers they serve to know that the REALTOR® family is here for them,” says NAR President William E. Brown. “We encourage one and all to join NAR in donating to the REALTORS® Relief Foundation.”
Donations also are pouring in from REALTOR® associations across the country to the Texas REALTORS® Relief Fund ($2,500 from the Greater Nashville REALTORS®, for example). Yet, despite the nearly $3 million collected, the fund is no longer accepting applications for assistance due to overwhelming demand.
In Florida, the Florida REALTORS® Disaster Relief Fund continues to collect donations to assist the state’s affected members. “Power just beginning to be restored to many areas so the need assessment has just begun,” says Margy Grant, Florida REALTORS® vice president and general counsel.
Taking action and heavy lifting
To help their fellow Texans to the south as they recover from hurricane damage and flooding, Collin County Association of REALTORS® not only donated to relief funds but is helping REALTORS® get back to business by waving secondary membership dues and fees. “Members of 14 Texas REALTOR® associations were among those impacted by hurricane Harvey,” says Jonna Fernandez, RCE, Collin County’s COO. “To help ease their burden, several local franchise offices have extended offers to practitioners within their brand to temporarily relocate their business to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We’re doing our part to assist these REALTORS® as they get back on their feet by waiving dues.”
Here are other ways local REALTOR® associations have found to aid fellow associations and their members:
- The Northeast Florida Association of REALTORS® had just finished packaging 1,000 Totes for Hope—Ziploc bags filled with needed toiletry and health items—to send to Texas for Hurricane Harvey relief when Hurricane Irma hit. Fortunately, there was no major damage to the association building or staff’s property, but the power outages and flooding kept the office closed for nearly a week.
- The Houston Association of REALTORS® launched a new program enabling members, property owners, landlords, and property managers to post homes that they agree to make available on a temporary basis to those displaced by storm damage and flooding. Some of the postings on har.com/temporaryhousing are available for reduced rent or even free, depending on the owner.
- Hilda Ramirez, director of PR, communications, and education for the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®, Calif., flew to Houston in September with a group of Vietnamese- and Spanish-speaking members to help majority ethnic communities with both translation and clean-up.
Ramirez teamed up with Keller Williams, which canceled its planned annual conference in San Antonio and instead invited all Keller Williams agents to help in hurricane relief. “There is one thing you cannot crush in this country and it is the human spirit,” says Ramirez, after what she called a humbling and beautiful experience working in an evacuation center. “I can’t wait to go back and help some more.”
Stay tuned to REALTOR® AE magazine on Facebook for more on how local associations are springing into disaster relief mode.