In February of last year, Congress appropriated $4.383 billion to Texas through Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds explicitly to rebuild and mitigate against future storms. Almost one year later, Texas cannot begin to utilize this important funding because HUD has not published the rules governing use of the money (i.e., the projects they are funding) in the Federal Register.
CDBG-DR funds can help provide local matches for things like additional gates for Lake Houston. I posted about how drawn out this process was on June 1 last year. The City was hoping for an answer in November for its grant reequest. Now, it’s February. HUD describes CDBG-DR funds as “crucial seed money to start the recovery process.”
What Big Lebowski would say about this?
LEBOWSKI: Where’s my goddamn money, you bum?!
DUDE: Well we–I don’t–
LEBOWSKI: They did not receive the money, you nitwit! They did not receive the goddamn money. HER LIFE WAS IN YOUR HANDS!
BRANDT: This is our concern, Dude.
Taking a Cue from the Movie
As WALTER says: If the plan gets too complex something always goes wrong.
So today, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) and Congressman Pete Olson (TX-22), Governor Greg Abbott, Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and the Houston Congressional delegation sent a letter to HUD. The language is considerably more diplomatic. The letter urges acting Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Russell Vought to approve the rules for spending the money in Texas. Representatives Kevin Brady (TX-08), Al Green (TX-09), Randy Weber (TX-14), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Michael McCaul (TX-10), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Brian Babin (TX-36), Michael Cloud (TX-27), and Dan Crenshaw (TX-02) also signed the letter.
Real People, Real Needs
It has been a year since these funds were allocated by the 115th Congress. “Now, we need the money to show up,” Rep. Lizzie Fletcher said. “There is much work still to do, and we need these funds to do it.”
“When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas over a year ago, families were uprooted, homes were destroyed and innocent lives were lost,” Rep. Pete Olson said. “I urge HUD and OMB to act quickly so we can finish the Harvey recovery process.”
The Texas Two Step
Just when I thought it was simply a matter of printing the rules, the letter tells us that there is yet another step before the money can start doing some good. It continues. Because the rules have not yet been published, “GLO has been significantly delayed in drafting a State Action Plan for the funds, the critical next step at the state level before the grants can begin to flow.”
The Plan to Make the Plan
The letter concludes, “Texans cannot afford to wait any longer. We urge you to expedite publication of these rules. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.” The government shutdown affected HUD. But now the shutdown has ended and still no rules, no money, no plan. Hopefully, it won’t take very long.
Posted by Bob Rehak on February 4, 2019
524 Days since Hurricane Harvey