FAQ
Learn more about Rotary Fire Fighters Home

How did the project originate?  

A member of the University Area Rotary Club, HFD (Ret’d) Captain Homero Ponce-Lopez, approached the Rotary club with his idea of building/buying a place where firefighters and first responders could stay while being treated at Texas Medical Center (TMC).  Homero was aware of the need of housing as he had personally seen firefighters struggling with finding a place to stay while they were undergoing treatment.    The Rotary club formed an Exploratory Committee and ultimately decided to take on the project, making it the club’s largest service project.

In 2013, Rotary Fire Fighters Home (RFFH) became its own entity and received its 501(c)(3) status.  It has its own Board of Directors, by-laws, etc.  The goal (at that time) was to build a 40-unit apartment complex.  Negotiations began with MD Anderson Cancer Center to obtain a long-term land lease.  Focus was on getting all the ground work done to kick-off the capital campaign as soon as the land lease was obtained.

In April 2014, the Rotary Club of Houston (a different club than the Rotary Club University Area), gave RFFH $12,500 to be used strictly to house firefighters at The Jesse Jones Rotary House (JJRH), not to be confused with Rotary Fire Fighters Home.  JJRH is actually a hotel located across the street from MD Anderson Cancer Center.  It is run and managed by Marriott Hotels.  The Jesse Jones Rotary House was built many years ago as a project of the Rotary Club of Houston.  Many years ago, a member of the Rotary Club of Houston willed money to the Rotary Club of Houston’s foundation, with the stipulation that it be used at JJRH.  Thus, the Rotary Club of Houston partnered with Rotary Club of University Area to use the $12,500 for firefighters and first responders staying at JJRH.

RFFH paid for a total of eleven firefighters (total of 338 nights) to stay at JJRH.  Rooms ran well over $100 per night and the funds lasted until 2015, at which time the decision was made that RFFH should find its own apartments to rent, rather than paying for hotel rooms.

Note:  After several years, RFFH learned that MDACC would not be providing a long-term land lease.  In 2016, RFFH leased two apartments located near the medical center and began providing temporary housing for firefighters.

Now that RFFH was faced with needing to buy land (raising funds for which is difficult since most funders do not want to fund land purchase), the BOD decided that it would focus on leasing up to six apartment for the short-term, with the long-range goal of owning land and units.

Why is RFFH needed? 

Firefighters have occupational risks from exposure to toxins and hazardous chemicals. As a result, firefighters suffer illnesses, particularly cancers, at a statistically higher rate than the average population.  Specialized treatment for these illnesses often requires an extended stay near the Texas Medical Center, where the housing costs can be crippling.

What is the current state of the project? 

RFFH is currently leasing two apartments.  Through the generosity of Jim McIngvale, Gallery Furniture, the apartments are fully furnished.  The goal is to lease 6 apartments.  Simultaneously, RFFH is looking at land to purchase in order to build its own units.

Who is funding the project?

The project is funded by fund-raising endeavors, such as the annual Gala, golf tournaments, Association of Conroe Firefighters, San Antonio Fire Department Stair Climb, and several annual donations from both the Rotary Club University Area as well as other Rotary clubs in the greater Houston area.

How many patients has RFFH helped?

Since RFFH began helping firefighters, it has paid for a total 1,125 nights.  Cancer patients often have to return many times for continued treatment.  RFFH has helped house over 35 firefighters, but those 35 have stayed with us for the 1,125 nights.  With only two units RFFH can only house two at a time.  There is a waiting list for the apartments.

What kind of fund raising does RFFH have (private donors/fund raising events?

Annual Gala
Private donations
Golf Tournaments
Rotary Clubs – individual club fund raising events
Grants – RFFH is currently exploring grant opportunities

Can a donor purchase an apartment? 

Currently RFFH does not “own” apartments.  A donor could:

  • pay for the lease of an apartment or multiple apartments for a period of time (i.e. a year) and as such, would have that apartment “named” after the donor as a sponsored unit;
  • make a significant contribution ($50k or greater) to the capital campaign, which would then give the donor naming rights to a unit once built;
  • serve as our Gala underwriter ($15,000) The goal of the 2019 Gala this year is to raise between $75k and $100K, to be used for leasing the six units.

The RFFH Program has “Ambassadors” who greet the firefighters when they arrive, check them into the unit, and are available to help if the firefighter has questions or concerns.  For this reason, all the apartments are located in the same apartment complex.

What is the average cost to maintain an apartment? 

The average cost is around $15,000 to $20,000.  Part of that depends on the lease at the time it is negotiated and the length of the lease.  Lease prices vary. Right now, for the two units, we anticipate spending a little over $40K for a year.  This includes our required insurance, lease, utilities, etc.

Who can stay at one of the apartments?

The Immediate Care apartment(s) is available to any active or retired, professional or volunteer firefighter or first responder who is receiving treatment at the Texas Medical Center located in Houston, TX.  (A volunteer Firefighter, however, must have a minimum of 5 years of service to qualify to apply).

It is expected that the majority of these will be receiving treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC).

It is also available to an “immediate” family member of any firefighter or first responder, who is receiving treatment at the Texas Medical Center.  “Immediate” is identified as spouse, mother, father, sister, brother or child.  Priority is given first to firefighters or first responders.

Should the apartment be available and there are no firefighters or first responders on the waiting list for the time requested, then the close family member will be accepted, based on apartment availability.

What does it cost to stay in the apartment?

The apartment is made available at no cost to the firefighter and his/her care giver.  A one-time cleaning fee of $125 is required, however, payable by cash or check at the time of occupancy of the apartment.

Is there a geographical requirement based on home address?

There are no residential geographic location requirements for the applicants. It is expected that the majority of those requesting the apartment will be from an area outside of the immediate Houston, TX area.  Firefighters and first responders from around the world qualify to apply.

What are the Applicant Requirements? 

Upon check-in, the applicant is required to sign an Applicant Agreement, acknowledging and agreeing to the following:

  • Applicant must be a firefighter or first responder or immediate family member of firefighter or first responder, undergoing treatment at the Texas Medical Center (TMC). There are no other restrictions based on gender, Patient age, religion, national origin, financial status or language.
  • To protect our Guests, we do not admit patients with communicable diseases.
  • RFFH reserves the right to refuse housing to anyone whom they believe would be disruptive to the Guests or operation of the Rotary Fire Fighters Home or detrimental to the purpose of the Rotary Fire Fighters Home.
  • Applications to RFFH are kept confidential, and by submitting this application, applicant agrees to the release of this information to RFFH staff or volunteers for purposes of placing an applicant in an apartment and following up with our guests.

Applicant agrees to have an adult Caregiver with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, during their entire stay at our apartment.

Do you have to have someone stay with you? 

Every resident is required to have a care giver, who lives with him/her in the apartment.  There are no exceptions to this requirement.

What are the requirements regarding length of stay?

The apartment may be reserved for no less than two days and up to 90 days.  It is understood that circumstances change when dealing with health issues.  Any exception to the 90-day rule must be approved.

Are pets allowed? 

Due to the health issues of our tenants, no animals of any kind are allowed in the apartments or on the grounds. Because the apartment is being offered free of charge and because of the need to assure that the apartment is sanitary and safe for future residents, RFFH reserves the right to maintain its policy of no pets.

Is smoking allowed?

Smoking is not allowed inside any building or apartment, on the patio, in the stairwells or in the parking lots.

Violations of the Rules:

All Rules are made in consideration of them and their health.

Violation of the Rules will result in the loss of apartment privileges.

We want to hear from you. Contact us!


Email us at
info@rotaryfirefightershome.org
or call us at
713-594-6305 for information pertaining to accommodations;
or 713-819-6281 for general information

Our Info

Rotary Firefighters Home
P.O.Box 541905
Houston, TX 77254
(281) 693-7162

The Rotary Fire Fighters Home appreciates the support over the years from the following corporate sponsors: