AUSTIN — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved Texas’ plan to get billions of dollars in aid to homeowners affected by Hurricane Harvey, but it will still be months before those affected by the storm get the assistance they need.
The General Land Office, which crafted the plan, will soon begin distributing $5 billion in federal block grants to counties hit by Harvey, including $2.3 billion for Harris County and Houston. It’s unclear when Houston will receive the money because the city council is still working on its local plan for distributing aid. The GLO expects local plans will be approved later this week.
The GLO and other local agencies must also meet other procurement procedures, including an environmental review and marketing outreach, before they start approving homeowners for the programs.
“The recovery from a storm the size of Harvey has required a Texas-sized coordinated response,” said Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush in a news release. “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."
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who helped secure the funding, praised the approval.
“Ten months after Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas, there’s no question our hardest hit communities are still rebuilding,” Cornyn said. “The approval of this targeted plan to help those who need it most is great news for Texans still working to return to normalcy after this horrific storm.”
The federal aid will help pay for reconstruction of single family homes, buyouts and acquisitions so homeowners can relocate outside of a floodplain, reimbursement for certain home repair expenses, rehab or new construction of affordable housing. Funding will also go toward local infrastructure, disaster mitigation and economic revitalization.
Alejandra Matos covers politics, immigration and education policy. Follow her on Twitter. Subscribe to the Texas Take politics newsletter.