TDHCA salutes HCCSA for innovation with mobile response unit
In February, the Hidalgo County Community Service Agency (HCCSA) unveiled its Special Response Mobile Unit, a 24-foot long trailer used to respond to local, regional and state disasters, census and healthcare enrollment, and utility bill-assistance application intake. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, TDHCA’s Michael Lyttle praised Hidalgo County leaders saying in part, “This mobile response unit is an example of creativity and innovation in government.”
Funding for the Special Response Unit was secured through Community Services Block Grant and the Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program funds.
The idea for a mobile response unit began in 2016 after the City of Granjeno, was hit by a severe storm. Power was lost throughout the community, and many families were in need of assistance. HCCSA staff arrived to provide assistance but could not secure any location nearby that still had power. The result was a lengthy wait in the South Texas heat for the many families seeking vouchers for temporary shelter at a local hotel.
As a result, a cargo trailer (horse trailer) was retrofitted with two generators, portable a/c, tables, portable floodlights, laptops, hotspots, printers, chairs and other office supplies. The purpose was to bring supplies to any usable building located in a disaster area to assist those affected. The trailer proved successful during Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts as HCCSA staff worked closely with TDHCA Community Affairs staff to secure key demographic information to assist those with the greatest and most immediate need.
HCCSA staff travelled to four counties in a five-week period to respond to the needs of those affected by the widespread disaster. The agency allocated approximately $400,000 during that period working out of an apartment complex, a public library, two church buildings, a borrowed fire department command trailer and a community center. However, the idea to provide services closer to those affected by disaster persisted.
Afterward, HCCSA considered how to build upon its initial efforts and develop an even better approach. They drafted up their idea of a mobile office/response unit and, after coordinating with TDHCA and a mobile unit builder, the county took delivery of the Special Response mobile unit in December 2019.
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