The Texas General Land Office (GLO) announced last week that it has successfully completed its Reimbursement Program from Hurricane Harvey. It was a first-of-its-kind program and concluded after providing nearly $86 million to almost 3,000 Texas homeowners. The GLO also announced that it had reconstructed its 2,500th home under its Harvey Homeowner Assistance Program.
Two Major Milestones Reached in Same Week
The two GLO disaster recovery programs are helping Texans across 48 counties (outside of Harris County and the city of Houston) whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. The two programs have now helped nearly 5,500 Texas homeowners recover from Harvey.
The GLO’s reimbursement program concluded after assisting 2,961 Texans with a total of $85,989,042 in reimbursements for out-of-pocket home repair expenses. In the same week, the GLO reached another milestone – reconstruction of 2,500 homes damaged during Harvey.Texas General Land Office
“Every day at the General Land Office we work to help improve the lives of Texans,” said Commissioner Bush. “The GLO is proud to be setting a record pace in disaster recovery while helping thousands of Texas families rebuild their lives and their homes. The GLO continues to leverage federal dollars efficiently and effectively to help Texas families and communities rebuild and mitigate against future storms.”
Details of Reimbursement Program
This week the Texas General Land Office completed its Homeowner Reimbursement Program (HRP) when it approved the final reimbursements for eligible homeowners.
The HRP program provided reimbursements up to $50,000 for Hurricane Harvey-impacted homeowners who used their life savings or other personal funds to pay out-of-pocket for disaster recovery repairs. The program’s efficiency yielded an additional $3 million in costs savings, which enabled the program to provide reimbursements for all applicants eligible under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) rules for the available Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding.
Homeowner Assistance Program Details
In the same week that the GLO successfully completed its Reimbursement Program, the GLO handed keys to a fully rebuilt home to the 2,500th Homeowner Assistance Program (HOAP) recipient. So far, approximately 4,300 HOAP applicants have been approved for assistance by the GLO. Of those, about 1,400 applications are in pre-construction (awaiting applicant approval of final design plans and permits). Four hundred more homes are currently under construction in addition to those already completed.
Before the HOAP program concludes, GLO anticipates that it will help rebuild more than 6,000 homes. It will do so using more than $1.3 billion in available Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). The GLO will also use an additional $500 million in Community Development Block Grants for Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Results Invite Comparison to City of Houston’s
The City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department updates its comparable statistics weekly.
During the period that the GLO reimbursed 2961 homeowners, Houston reimbursed 119. And while the GLO reconstructed 2500 homes, the City reconstructed only 117.
Possible Reasons for Huge Disparity
The GLO reviews City applications before forwarding them to HUD for final approval and funding. In trying to explain possible reasons for the disparity in results, a GLO spokesperson pointed to the needlessly complex structure of the City’s program.
- The City set up a two-tier application process in which people filled out a screening survey before filling out an application.
- Then the City divided survey respondents into six priority groups, trying to exhaust possibilities in one before inviting applications from the next.
- As the December 31st deadline for reimbursement applications approached, some survey respondents were invited to apply at the end of the day on December 30th. Others were not invited at all.
The GLO also pointed out that many of the applications submitted by the City were incomplete and that the City’s data formatting was inconsistent.
When the GLO sent a team to Houston to help train City employees handling applications, GLO helpers were not allowed to enter City offices.
The City of Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department still has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/24/2021 based on data published by the Texas GLO and Houston Housing and Community Development
1244 Days after Hurricane Harvey