Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visits Houston Food Bank in wake of historic Texas winter storm – Houston Chronicle

From the steps of the Houston Food Bank, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, was clear with her words: Disasters don’t strike everyone equally.

“You already have so many families in the state and across the country on the brink that they can’t afford an emergency to begin with,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This can set people back for years, not just days.”

Along with Democratic Congresswomen Sylvia Garcia and Sheila Jackson Lee, the New York representative arrived early Saturday in Houston to survey damages incurred during the historic winter freeze that caused millions to go without power for days, water shortages and a boil water notice for most of the state.

Ocasio-Cortez raised more than $3 million in less than a week to distribute to Houston organizations focused on food security, elder care and homelessness. All funds raised will go toward these local nonprofit organizations, she said.

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The country is rallying around the state of Texas to come back from this tragedy, she said, but there must be short- and longterm policy decisions so “this kind of preventable devastation never happens again.”

The Houston Food Bank, which serves a number of smaller food pantries in the city, will receive a large portion of the funding, she said. At the food bank, no one has to prove they need assistance. “You come up, you need help, you don’t have to prove a damn thing,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Documented, undocumented, no matter your income or housing status, you can get help here.

Jackson-Lee said she has seen 20 years of neglect by the state when it concerns vulnerable and marginalized populations. Much of Garcia and Jackson-Lee’s districts went days without power or potable water this week, they said.

“A lot of vulnerable people, essential workers, marginalized people, a lot of documented or undocumented, they are our residents, they are our brothers and sisters,” Jackson-Lee said. “We know so many of them suffered hardships even more than I imagined.”

Ocasio-Cortez will stay in Houston Saturday knocking on doors in Garcia’s district to visit with residents and make sure they have supplies to recover. She said her privilege as a COVID-vaccinated public servant prompted her to travel to Texas in person.

“We want to help everybody. You need it, we’ll be there,” she said. “That’s the New York spirit, the Texas spirit; that’s the American spirit.”

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