Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

Representing the 18th District of TEXAS

CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE LAUNCHES THE START OF THE ANNUAL BEAT THE HEAT PROGRAM BENEFITTING FAMILIES SEEKING RELIEF FROM SKYROCKETING TEMPERATURES AND EXTREME HEAT

Jul 22, 2019
Press Release

For Immediate Release                                                                  Contact: Robin Chand

July 22, 2019                                                                                                   (202) 225–3816

Press Statement

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Launches the Start of the Annual Beat the Heat Program Benefitting Families Seeking Relief from Skyrocketing Temperatures and Extreme Heat

 

Jackson Lee—“The need for continued vigilance to install these units, and bring relief to families affected by the heat, is renewed once more as we continue to recover from Hurricane Harvey.  While the toll the rain took on the city is well-documented—that epic weather calamity killed many and displaced countless others, and dropped close to five feet of precipitation in a compressed period of time—less publicized is the toll the storm took on our city’s housing supply.  Hurricane Harvey was the nation’s largest housing disaster.  All told, almost 350,000 households were impacted or affected.  Many still remain displaced from their homes.  Others have received partial funds for their homes, but it is insufficient.  The full measure and total gravity of the homes lost and lives upended continues to this day.  The Beat the Heat program is but one more way we can add some measure of comfort to the neediest and most vulnerable among us.  I am proud of this initiative—which has been a mainstay of Houston for over two decades—the relief the program brings, and the partnership, willingness and collaboration demonstrated by community and business leaders in recognizing the need for the program, and working together to effectuate positive change for the community.”

 

Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a Senior Member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Budget released this statement on the commencement of the 2019 Beat the Heat Program:

 

The beginning of the extreme heat deep in the heart of Texas signals the commencement of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s annual Beat the Heat program, an initiative whereby she leads neighbors and members of the community to bring relief to those seeking escape from scorching temperatures.  Extreme heat is nothing new for Texas.   

 

A Texas summer is long, hot and often insufferable.  During its peak, temperatures routinely top 90 degrees and regularly enter into triple digits.  According to the data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control, 7 in 10 heat-related deaths were caused by exposure to excessive heat while in others, heat was a contributing factor.  Heat-related deaths occur more frequently in urban areas—like Houston—and the CDC calculates that Texas, together with two other western states, account for 43% of heat-related deaths in the United States.  As has been stated by the National Weather Service, the poorest among us, our children and our elderly populations are most susceptible to adverse health reactions associated with excessive heat.  And, according to the 2019 Farmer’s Almanac, August is typically the hottest month for Houston and this year will be no exception.  This year, the first two weeks of August are expected to yield average temperatures as high as 95 degrees. 

 

Houston is our nation’s fourth-largest city and those of us who call this great place home know that there is much diversity in this city, of all types.  This is an asset for our city.  Yet, one disparity which is troubling is the gap between those with means and those without.  According to recent data, the numbers of poor people in our great diverse community are stark and troubling across many demographic groups.  The poverty rate for children in Houston is 23%, and the numbers are no more encouraging for African Americans and Hispanic people, who have similar poverty rates. Close to ten percent of our fair city is categorized as elderly.  Those with the means to escape its grip do so, while many others are left to endure, often without the resources or capability to find respite. All told, the confluence of the summer heat coupled with socioeconomic conditions that prevent ready access to air conditioners and cooling stations, makes for a dangerous equation.  This is because that disparity yields real differences, including in resources.  One such resource is the ability to escape the heat. 

 

Moreover, with the rise in barometric temperatures, there are greater incidences of diminished air quality.  On days of especially high heat pollution has a tendency to rise above acceptable air quality indices, and a wider spread of unstable toxic gas—ozone—occurs in the air.  This problem is exacerbated when considering the fact that our city has a large land mass and many Houstonians travel far in their automobiles to get to go about their daily lives.  This combination of factors leads to dangerous conditions, from which those who are infirm are particularly susceptible.  This fact, coupled with the high number of automobiles and the great distances traveled by motorists, has particular occasion to make conditions unhealthy.  This is all the more reason for relief.

 

According to the Houston City Health Department, there were 15 heat-related deaths in Harris County, and in Houston alone, there were up to a half-dozen deaths.  As has been the practice of the Office of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee for over two decades, today marks the beginning of this compelling community-wide initiative to help provide respite from the hot Texas heat by summoning business and community leaders to provide and install air conditioner units for our community’s neediest and most vulnerable citizens.  Together with the generosity of organizations and individuals from around greater Houston, this event will be the kickoff of the installation phase, as well as an opportunity to increase visibility so that those seeking to participate in this endeavor may learn about the initiative and ways to contribute to this cause. 

“These reasons, and the need to do as scripture says, to help the least of these, provided the impetus for the Beat the Heat Program.  For over two decades, the Beat the Heat program has been a community-wide initiative to help provide respite from the Texas heat by summoning business and community leaders to provide and install air conditioner units for our community’s neediest and most vulnerable citizens.   This initiative cannot happen by itself.  It requires the generosity and selflessness of some of our community’s most dedicated individuals and businesses.  This includes organizations like Washington & Sons and Central South Carpenters Regional and Local 551 who have been incredibly generous with their resources for 15 years, for which the citizens they helped and I will always remain endlessly grateful.   This year, I am pleased that Invista, a social welfare organization, is participating in the program.

 

The need for continued vigilance to install these units, and bring relief to families affected by the heat, is renewed once more as we continue to recover from Hurricane Harvey.  While the toll the rain took on the city is well-documented—that epic weather calamity killed many and displaced countless others, and dropped close to five feet of precipitation in a compressed period of time—less publicized is the toll the storm took on our city’s housing supply.  Hurricane Harvey was the nation’s largest housing disaster.  All told, almost 350,000 households were impacted or affected.  Many still remain displaced from their homes.  Others have received partial funds for their homes, but it is insufficient.  The full measure and total gravity of the homes lost and lives upended continues to this day.  The Beat the Heat program is but one more way we can add some measure of comfort to the neediest and most vulnerable among us.”

 

I am proud of this initiative, the relief the program brings, and the partnership, willingness and collaboration demonstrated by community and business leaders in recognizing the need for the program, and working together to effectuate positive change for the community. 

 

 

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Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat representing the 18th Congressional District of Texas, is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security and the Budget. She is a Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations