Rebuilding Together Houston

Rebuilding Together Houston is a nonprofit that helps low-income homeowners around the local Houston area repair their homes. For 40 years, they have partnered with small to large corporations as well as encouraged communities to enlist themselves as volunteers to lend a helping hand to their neighbors. Multiple interviews, drone, gimble, time lapse, and wide shots come together to tell the story of the positive force this nonprofit as created in Houston.



Acres Home is a community of African Americans, historically purchasing by the acre. These homes are the history and the culture. Primarily, these are old homes with older, elderly people living in them. And over the years, they've come accustomed to the wearing of the home or the damage that came a part of the home.


The Private Sector Initiatives Program started in Washington, DC, after the election of Ronald Reagan, and it was all about, how do we mobilize private sector players, business, civic associations, religious congregations, to help address social and economic problems, at a time when the United States government was about to cut taxes dramatically and cut spending.

Houston was one of the very few examples of where we created this new organization to do that. And I led this, enlisted some wonderful Houstonians, to organize a Houston committee for private sector initiatives. And so that's how it got started. We launched it with six houses in the first take. And the experience everybody had was, this is great. This really can transform lives.

And I remember going to one home, and it was just such an eye opener. I mean, literally, the only running water spigot in the house was like the hot water thing on the tub. Nothing else worked. I saw that and I thought, we have to do interior repairs. It just sort of became obvious that the more comprehensive we could be, the more transformational we'd be.

It just made sense, down the road, for us to be part of Rebuilding Together.

Don't take it all the way to the front, because you can't--



Rebuilding Together serves low-income homeowners, who are working families, seniors, and veterans.

I've been working with Rebuilding Together Houston for about 14 years now. I kind of live in a bubble, both at work and at home. And when you get out into the community and you really see where the need of the people are, it's kind of an eye-opening experience. It's a very grounding opportunity to work in some of the communities that really need a lot of support and help from people like us.

If we can keep the house in the family, seniors can age in place. 94% of the people we serve say they want to live their life out in their home. So the work that we do, it adds 20 years or more to the life of a house. So seniors age in place. And then they have the opportunity to pass that house, that financial asset, on to the next generation of their family.

But they came out on a Saturday with a whole group of volunteers, and they've provided an air conditioner for us, a storm door, a roof, air purifiers, wheelchair ramp for my mom.

After Harvey, we decided to take a much more holistic approach to these houses. And we developed the 25-point safety checklist.

Without that, these homes would not last a couple of years, in most cases. Because usually they have water damage or wind damage. And once that happens, it's just a spiral downward. And so that's what we like, is we can leave the house in structural condition. It's safe. It's sound. And that's special.

These are all things that provide a quality of life and a peace of mind that everybody's entitled to.


One of the most fun things that they do is they paint the house a color that the homeowner themselves gets to choose. And in a way, that is the smallest thing that we have done to these houses. But to the homeowners, it sometimes feels like the biggest thing. Because it reaffirms to them that someone really cares about them.

She wanted a rich red color, so that when she drives into her driveway, she feels rich.

We've always felt that our work does a lot more than just clean up a house. We've always felt that it improves people's health. And we now have data that demonstrates this.

She is thrilled. She's really excited. It gives her a sense of pride to be able to say, hey, I got my house done.

They kind of get used to living in an environment over time. And then, all of a sudden, they see us show up and start making changes, and they just get the little twinkle in their eye.

It uplifts the spirit of the entire neighborhood.

I think what we've done is help save neighborhoods, strengthen neighborhoods, and extend their ability to stay in those houses. From the tiny little program it started out, to look back and say, OK, we've done over 14,000 homes around the city, that's a lot. And I hope it just keeps going.

We serve several hundred families every year. But I estimate we turn away about 1,000 families or more every year as well.

You just want to do as much as you can. They're so thankful for whatever we do. It just sometimes feels like it's not enough.

They are keeping families in their homes, and keeping us in our family home as well.


Lon Brenner - Valero



Rebuilding Together Houston is a great organization. Valero has been a supporter for almost 10 years, covers multiple projects and a significant contributions of both financial and volunteer hours. Housing is something that is critical to everyone. It's hard to take care of any other needs if you don't have a safe and secure place to live.

We like to maximize the impact in the neighborhood where we do our business. A lot of our employees actually came from that immediate neighborhood, they grew up in the neighborhood around the refinery. We've had multiple projects, and this particular project that we're doing is right across the street from Hartman Park. It's the centerpiece of the community.

To go to that project and see a lot of Valero volunteers, but also, our partners, our contractors, that we do work with every day, to see them there just as engaged, just involved side by side with us helping out our community. That was very rewarding. You're making a connection with people that live in the neighborhood.


Leanne Schneider - Reliant



Most people know Reliant as a home or business electricity provider throughout the state, but we believe passionately about giving back to the communities where we live and work. Reliant and Rebuilding Together Houston have been partners for 20 years.

And since 2002, we've revitalized 85 homes. We've added on additional needs as needs arise. Reliant and Rebuilding Together Houston really do align on some of the goals for helping our community; so: building a cohesive community and revitalizing our communities.

So being able to help people stay in their homes and be safe and healthy in their homes really is important to us, as well as the core of what Rebuilding Together Houston is about. You can see the impact. You see the transformation from the beginning of the project to the transformation afterward. It's one of our favorite volunteer activities that we've been doing for over 20 years.