Helping Houston’s Women Weather the Next Storm

The Women’s Resource (TWR) is committed to promoting financial resiliency among women to minimize the repercussions of disasters not only on them but also on their families and the broader Houston community. Texas, being the most vulnerable state to natural calamities, suffers significant financial losses, averaging $1,478 per household annually over the past five years. The escalating impact of extreme weather intensified by climate change leads to disrupted businesses, damaged infrastructure, tangled supply chains, and soaring prices, affecting everyday commodities.

According to the Urban Institute, the aftermath of natural disasters, combined with economic, social, and environmental factors, can result in immediate and long-term financial setbacks for affected residents. The costs of replacing or repairing damaged personal property, increased healthcare expenses for physical and mental well-being, and the burden of housing and relocation expenditures add to the financial strain. Simultaneously, local businesses suffer, reducing employment opportunities and hindering families’ ability to cover routine expenses like rent, mortgage payments, utilities, auto loans, and other bills.

While all families face the financial implications of disasters, research indicates that women, particularly women of color in the US, are more vulnerable due to existing disparities. They often assume caregiving roles during crises, tending to the sick or injured and awaiting relief supplies. Consequently, their ability to maintain or find employment following a disaster is hampered. Moreover, women’s household work, which goes unrecognized and uncompensated in post-disaster needs assessments, leads to underestimated financial losses. Additionally, limited access to safety nets, insurance, and emergency funds further exacerbate their challenges.

For women already struggling to make ends meet, the absence of a safety net can be devastating when employers shut down, homes get flooded, or communities endure prolonged power outages. It is crucial to invest in programs specifically designed for women and girls to build resiliency and minimize the impact of disasters on them, their families, and communities. Achieving financial wellness goes beyond managing money; it requires addressing the underlying thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs related to money through a trauma-informed approach.

TWR adopts a trauma-informed approach to financial stability, aiming to meet women where they are and prevent additional anxiety. Through our programming, clients gain an understanding of the relationship between their individual traumas and financial behaviors. They learn to identify trauma triggers and break free from destructive financial patterns. TWR will develop a training program for front-line staff working with vulnerable communities, educating them on financial trauma, the impact of natural disasters, and the use of trauma-informed approaches in financial preparedness before, during, and after a disaster. TWR is also collaborating with experts in trauma-informed care to develop a curriculum for a one-hour disaster preparedness class. This class will encourage participants to incorporate disaster considerations into their financial planning, ensuring they are better equipped to handle emergencies.

Another way TWR helps clients plan for emergencies and disasters is through YourLife Coaching. Financial Coaching is free and confidential. Our coaches help clients manage their money and improve their financial futures. By providing tools, resources, and encouragement, Financial Coaches facilitate behavior change, enabling clients to apply their newfound knowledge directly to their everyday lives. Coaching sessions are available in English or Spanish to cater to clients’ needs. On average, women who receive one-on-one or small group coaching from TWR witness a $2,000 increase in savings and a $3,000 decrease in debt. The positive impact of this transformation is far-reaching, as these women pass on their financial skills to their children, breaking the cycle of poverty and fostering generational wealth.

TWR’s initiatives help low-income women develop financial resiliency, enabling them to weather life’s storms effectively. We firmly believe that empowering women to take control of their finances translates into empowering their destinies. By equipping women with the necessary skills, tools, and support to manage their finances, improvements can be observed in their social and economic status. Ultimately, this translates into increased resources that can be devoted to their families and communities, creating a positive ripple effect.

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