The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) is an organization of institutions dedicated to developing power and leadership among citizens in order to transform the city. We work to create relational power that can build and strengthen each member institution as well as shape public policy for the common good. TMO was formed in 1980 to give a voice to people who are usually excluded from major decisions that affect their lives. TMO is a part of a larger network of organizations known as the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a nationwide organizing institute with a fifty year history. TMO is also part of the West / Southwest IAF regional network and the Industrial Areas Foundation national network.

TMO believes that a truly democratic society requires the active participation of ordinary citizens. When people lack the means to connect to power and participate effectively in public life, social relationships disintegrate. Our model of relational organizing helps build real community. It generates social capital through a tight web of relationships across lines of race, ethnicity, class, faith, and geography. This social capital enables us to participate fully in public life and to become more effective actors in our communities.


TMO Wins Extension of D-SNAP Deadline for Harvey Survivors

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As thousands of Harvey survivors spent hours in line attempting to meet the deadline for emergency food aid, the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), TMO leaders organized a press conference at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church to demand an extension of the deadline for families.

Said Fr. Simón Bautista, “For two days in a row [my parishioner] got in line at 6 a.m. and by the time she was seen, around 7 p.m., she was told that her last name was not being seen that day. She returned at 3 a.m. to find that 10 to 15 individuals were already in line. These individuals and families have been waiting in the heat, missing work and some still haven’t received the benefits.”

TMO called on federal and state legislators to extend the deadline because “families are desperate for food resources and many have not been able to access D-SNAP benefits due to long lines.”

More than one week later, state officials announced a three-day extension of the deadline for families to enroll. 

The Rev. Dr. Rhenel Johnson recognized Congresswoman Lee for "listening to the cry of the people."  TMO is now calling for more locations throughout Harris County.

Sheila Jackson Lee Celebrated for Her Involvement in Extending D-SNAP Services in Houston, KIAH Newsfix

Piden Extender D-SNAP en el Condado de Harris, Telemundo

State Health Officials Continue Harvey Food Assistance ProgramHouston Chronicle [pdf]

TMO Demands Extension of Deadline for Harvey Victims to Sign Up for D-SNAPHouston Public Media

Community Leaders Push for D-SNAP ExtensionClick 2 Houston

Appeal for Aid on Behalf of NeedyHouston Chronicle [pdf]

Live Feed of Press Conference

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TMO Works with 200 Our Lady of Guadalupe Leaders to Organize Meeting with Ft. Bend County Engineer

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Over 200 people flooded out of their homes due to Hurricane Harvey gathered at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church Family Life Center in Rosenberg, Texas to learn their options and get input from the Fort Bend County engineer.   Fr. Lee Flores, Lali García, Joe Reyes and Marleny Ayala organized and led such a meeting (for the first time) to help flood survivors evaluate whether they should rebuild, sell, or elevate their homes in the aftermath.  Leaders are also researching a proposed levy considered by other neighborhoods.    

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TMO Asks Red Cross Why So Many are Denied Assistance

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As TMO leaders and clergy worked with families working to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Harvey, one issue they kept hearing about was confusion about Red Cross Immediate Assistance funds.  Helen Mott, a parishioner at Our Mother of Mercy, was denied $400 in cash assistance from the Red Cross even though she had to evacuate her uninhabitable home.
 
Because the Red Cross offers one of the few cash assistance resources available at this time, TMO organized a press conference, at New Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, calling on them to ensure that families who need these funds most will receive them.

"We are asking that the Red Cross would clarify their application and appeals process. We also ask that the Red Cross would take an extra step and work with community groups like ours and open up lines of communication so we can help people during this recovery process," explained TMO leader Dr. Charles Turner.

American Red Cross Representatives Respond to Why People Aren't Getting Approved for $400 Assistance Package, NewFix CW39

Even Faith leaders Are Criticizing the Red Cross for Denying Flood Victims $400, Houston Press

Red Cross under Fire From Flood Victims, Houston Public Media

Afectados Por Harvey se Declaran Frustrados Con la Cruz Roja, Univision

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CCHD Features TMO Work on Flood Recovery

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Vulnerable Communities Respond to Hurricane Harvey
Following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and loss of property and of work, CCHD-funded The Metropolitan Organization calls for a grace period for late rent payments in Houston. Read the NY Times story.

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Texas Senator & Houston Mayor Join TMO in Call for Renters' Grace Period

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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Texas Senator Sylvia García joined TMO in calling on landlords to extend a 30-day grace period and to refrain from charging renters’ fees and penalties following the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey.  

Rev. Ed Gomez of St. Paul’s/San Pablo Episcopal Church shared stories of tenants who work in the service industry and, due to the storm, missed days of work and are now unable to pay their rent at this time.  "People are not asking for a handout but a hand up as we get through this difficult time," he said.

[Photo Credit: Al Ortiz, Houston Public Media]

Alcalde de Houston Pide a Propietarios de Apartamentos no Abusar de los Inquilinos Damnificados por Harvey, Univision

Lanzan Advertencia a Arrendatarios Que Abusan de InquilinosTelemundo

Houston Mayor to Discuss Post-Harvey Evictions, KPRC 2

Mayor Turner Urges Landlords to be Flexible After Harvey, ABC-13

Mayor Turner Fires Back at Houston Landlords Mistreating Renters, CW39

Mayor Turner Enforcing Renters Rights Following HarveyFOX 26

Turner Asks Houston Landlords to Grant One Month Grace Period to RentersHouston Public Media (NPR)

Mayor Turner Names Former Shell CEO as Recovery CzarHouston Press

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Mayor Joins Voice to TMO's Call for Grace Period for Renters

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In response to TMO's call for mercy from landlords threatening to evict residents, in the form of a 45-day grace period for renters without penalties, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced he would carefully analyze the issue.  He also called on landlords to grant renters time to come up with the rent. 

Three TMO leaders testified at City Hall: Raul Ramirez of St. Leo The Great Catholic Church, Rev. Simón Bautista, Christ Church Cathedral Church and Rev. Edward Gomez of St. Paul's Episcopal Church /Iglesia Episcopal San Pablo.

For Renters, Harvey Was the First Blow, Followed By Order to Move, New York Times

Mayor Turner Tells Landlords Not to Evict Flood Victims in Response to Pastors’ Pleas, Houston Press

Harvey Wreaks Havoc on Houston's Undocumented, USA Today

Late Fees Add Problems for Tenants Who Missed Out on Work During Harvey, Houston Public Media

Landlords Still Charging Harvey Victims Rent for Destroyed Homes, Death and Taxes

Pleading for Time on Behalf of Renters Behind On Their Rent Because of Hurricane Harvey, Univision [Spanish]

Testimony at City Hall

Piden Plazo Para los Inquilinos Que Fueron Afectados por Harvey y Que Están Atrasados Con la Renta, Univision

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TMO Calls on Landlords to Add Grace Period for Renters

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Acting on stories they heard in outreach efforts around church neighborhoods, 70 leaders from 10 member institutions of TMO convened a Saturday morning press conference to call on landlords to grant a three-week (minimum) grace period for renters in the area and across Harris County.

TMO leaders report that pastors are afraid of evictions for not being able to pay rent, due to a week without work caused by Hurricane Harvey.  This loss of income is devastating to families and evictions will exacerbate financial hardships and instability during this recovery period.

Fr. Ed Gomez of San Pablo Episcopal Church and his members have visited ten surrounding apartment complexes to urge landlords for grace periods, but not all landlords have agreed. If mortgage companies can give lenders 90 days to get back on their feet, leaders argue, then surely landlords can give at least two weeks.

TMO called on the Mayor and Council to urge landlords not to exploit community members when all are recovering from the unprecedented storm together.  Leaders also called on Mayor Turner and Judge Emmitt to create a public works strategy that will hire people who are unemployed to do the massive cleanup that is needed.

Some Apartment Dwellers Face Post-Harvey Eviction, Houston Chronicle

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Hurricane Harvey Update

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Thank you for all of your calls of concern and your prayers on behalf of TMO organizers and leaders.  We are weathering a storm of epic proportions, an 800 year event!   Hurricane Harvey is surpassing ALL other flood events. Thousands here have evacuated and many, many more are being rescued and sheltered as this is being written.  Surrounding areas of Dickinson, Rosenberg, Conroe, portions of Houston, and the communities of Sienna Plantation and First Colony are under mandatory evacuation. 

Houston_-_Photo_From_Inside_Flooding_Car.jpgAs for the organizers, Willie and Maria are stuck in neighborhoods surrounded by water; Sheyda Brown is on the fourth floor of the apartment complex but water has reached on top of first floor; and Mario Duran’s car is under water and his mother had to be rescued by boat.  Elizabeth was working out of town and is not able to fly back because both airports are closed.

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1,300+ TMO Leaders Engage Harris Co. Sheriff on SB4

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More than 1,300 leaders from TMO assembled at Assumption Catholic Church to clarify the impact of anti-immigrant Senate Bill 4.  Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez responded to questions and concerns raised by leaders, as did Houston Police Department Assistant Chief Lori Bender and Carolina Ortuzar-Diaz, an immigration attorney from Manny Ramirez Law Firm.

[Photo Credit: Douglas Pierre]

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We Must Link Arms in Pursuit of a Loving Nation

[Excerpt]

In response to the aftermath in Charlottesville, Va., a group of Houston area faith leaders have written the following commentary.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” These are foundational words upon which this country was built and the creed which Americans are to believe and live by. There is no room for hate and bigotry with these words. These words are inclusive of all men — white, black, brown, educated, uneducated, rich and poor, people of faith and of no faith.

In light of the horrific events in Charlottesville, Va., and elsewhere, and under the veil of weak support from the White House to condemn bigotry, anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia, we wish to lift up our voices and represent our faith traditions in concert with American values we all cherish....

We Must Link Arms in Pursuit of a Loving Nation, Houston Chronicle

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