Harris County’s Community Services Department wants to know how you would spend $750 million? The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Texas General Land Office (GLO) allocated that amount to the County for flood mitigation in the wake of Harvey.
Flood Mitigation funds (MIT) go to projects that help communities reduce future flooding. They differ from Disaster Relief funds (DR). The latter help individuals recover from past floods.
GLO announced the $750 million allocation on March 18. HUD is NOT giving the money to Harris County outright. The County must first submit a plan of how and where it will use the money. Both HUD and GLO must approve that plan, called the Method of Distribution (MOD) before work can begin. Then, as vendors submit invoices, Harris County will submit them for reimbursement.
Notification of Planning Meeting For CDBG-MIT funding
Harris County wants your input on the plan. The Community Services Department will accept written and oral input regarding the use of funding and development of Harris County’s MOD at a planning meeting scheduled for:
Thursday, May 19, 2022
1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
Harris County Community Services Department (HCCSD) Office
9418 Jensen, Houston, Texas, 77093
Harris County will accept written input before May 30, 2022, 5:00 pm. via mail to Attn: HCCSD Planning Section, 13105 Northwest Freeway Suite 400, Houston, Texas 77040 or by email to DRplancomments@csd.hctx.net.
To Request Special Accommodations at Meeting
Harris County will provide for reasonable accommodations for persons attending Harris County functions. Requests from persons needing special accommodations should be received by Harris County staff 48-hours prior to the function. The public hearing will be conducted in English and requests for language interpreters or other special communication needs should be made at least 72 hours prior to a function.
Please call 832-927-4700 or email DRplancomments@csd.hctx.net for assistance or additional information about this posting.
Restrictions on Use of Money
The funds represent an opportunity to mitigate disaster risks and reduce future losses in areas impacted by Harvey.
HUD defines mitigation as: “Those activities that increase resilience to disasters and reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of loss of life, injury, damage to and loss of property, and suffering and hardship, by lessening the impact of future disasters.”
Virtually all Harris County Flood Control District Bond Projects would qualify under that definition.
Eligible recipients include units of local government, special purpose districts, and port and river authorities.
The GLO encourages the prioritization of regional investments with regional impacts. Those include:
- Projects that reduce risk from hurricanes, tropical storms and depressions, flooding, wind and other hazards
- Disaster-resistant infrastructure
- Upgrading water, sewer, solid waste, communications, energy, transportation, health and medical, and other public infrastructure
- Multi-use infrastructure
- Green or natural mitigation infrastructure.
Low-to-Moderate Income Requirement
The table below shows the percentage of LMI Residents in each of Harris County’s 23 watersheds and the number of structures damaged in those watersheds by Harvey. Cross reference this information with the list of flood bond projects in making your recommendations for how to allocate the $750 million. And, of course, you don’t have to restrict yourself to flood bond projects.
Brittany Eck, GLO spokesperson, emphasized that the LMI requirement applies to “beneficiaries of a project.” She also said that GLO encouraged Harris County to look both upstream and downstream for beneficiaries. Not everybody in a watershed may benefit.
Time Limitation on Expenditure of Funds
No less than 50% of the $750,000,000 CDBG-MIT allocated to Harris County must be expended by January 12, 2027, with the full balance expended by January 12, 2032.
While this may sound like plenty of time, remember that today almost five years have passed since Harvey. And only 45 of 181 projects originally in the flood bond have begun construction. The rest are in still in feasibility surveys, engineering, or right-of-way acquisition.
All flood bond projects have already started and passed through one or more of those preliminary phases.
This Money Could Fully Fund the Bond Program
This $750 million, together with the Flood Resilience Trust approved last year by Commissioners Court last year, should be enough to fully fund every project in the bond program.
However, the County Administrator chose the Community Services Department (CSD) to recommend projects for the MOD. The thinking was that CSD was more in touch with the needs of LMI neighborhoods. Of course, CSD will consult with HCFCD on the final recommendations.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/14/2022
1719 Days since Hurricane Harvey