McCaul says efforts need to be expedited to help storm survivors
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, whose 10th district includes Katy, said he is pleased that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved Texas’ $5 billion action plan for Hurricane Harvey relief. But, he added, “We need to be moving faster.”
On June 25, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced HUD approval of the state plan for $5.024 billion in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds to help Texas recover from Hurricane Harvey.
The approved plan will deliver $2.7 billion in recovery funds to areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey outside of the City of Houston and Harris County, said Bush. The remaining $2.3 billion direct allocation to Harris County and the City of Houston will soon be submitted as future amendments to the State Action Plan pending submission of each entity’s Local Action Plans.
“Due to the General Land Office’s pre-planning and preparation, these federal recovery funds will be in the hands of Texans faster than in previous disasters,” said Bush. “Our momentum is strong and we are working every day to keep our recovery moving forward.”
However, McCaul said, “As we approach the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, funding continues to be held up in an approval process suffering from what I call ‘paralysis by analysis.’ I will continue to work on a federal level to expedite recovery efforts to ensure we get Texans the resources they desperately need.
“In fact, the House recently passed my amendment to the Water Resource Development Act of 2018 to require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the completion of flood and storm damage reduction studies in the Houston and Coastal Texas areas. Texans cannot afford to wait,” said the Republican.
Bush said as the General Land Office (GLO) works to get funds into the hands of Texas communities, there are opportunities to streamline federal regulations.
“Expansive procurement procedures and extensive environmental reviews create unnecessary hurdles to funding reaching our impacted Texans,” he said. “As such, the GLO is working with the Texas Congressional Delegation and HUD partners to cut unnecessary red tape and ensure the fullest possible recovery for Texas. These housing and infrastructure funds will help Texans recover and Texas communities to rebuild stronger,” said Bush.
“While this allocation of CDBG-DR funds is moving more quickly than previous major disaster packages, it can never be fast enough. The recovery from a storm the size of Harvey has required a Texas-sized coordinated response. For those who are still struggling, we will continue to work with our federal partners to streamline regulations and deploy recovery dollars to our affected Texas communities,” Bush said.
The GLO is working with Regional Councils of Governments to finalize local methodist of distribution for buyout/acquisition and infrastructure funds in accordance with federal requirements. Local needs assessments and outreach for housing programs will soon commence defining locally-specific housing needs. In addition, Bush added, the GLO has successfully completed housing project guidelines and identified qualified contractors for housing programs, grant administration, environmental clearance and other functions as required by federal regulations.
In accordance with the CDBG-DR requirements, and to expedite the recovery process funding, the GLO will directly administer and oversee the following programs:
Single Family Homeowner Assistance ($1.048 billion): Provides funding for rehabilitation and reconstruction of owner-occupied single-family homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey.
Buyouts and Acquisitions ($275 million): Eligible homeowners may sell their home to a local government at a pre-storm or post-storm fair market value and move out of harm’s way by relocating outside of a floodplain to a lower-risk area.
Homeowner Reimbursement ($100 million): Allows homeowners to be reimbursed for certain out-of-pocket expenses incurred for repairs to their home including reconstruction, rehabilitation or mitigation up to $50,000.
Affordable Rental ($250 million): Provides funding for rehabilitation, reconstruction and new construction of affordable multi-family housing projects in areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
Local Infrastructure ($413 million): Repairs, enhances and restores infrastructure for local communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey as part of a comprehensive long-term recovery program.
Economic Revitalization ($100 million): Offers interim assistance to small businesses impacted by Hurricane Harvey through deferred forgivable loans and loans in exchange for job creation or retention. Small business within Harris County and the city of Houston will be eligible to apply for this program.
Local, Regional and State Planning ($137 million): The GLO will conduct planning studies focused on disaster mitigation in the impacted areas with the purpose of promoting sound long-term recovery.