The Texas General Land Office (GLO) published its proposed Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) Action Plan last week for floods in Texas during 2019. This 136-page document is available for public review and comment through August 27, 2020. It describes rules that the GLO will use to distribute $212,714 million in CDBG-DR grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
As matters of national policy, HUD has required grantees to spend at least 80 percent of the allocation on unmet needs in HUD identified most impacted and distressed (MID) areas; the remaining 20 percent will address unmet needs in other eligible counties. Also 70% of the funds must go to meet the needs of Low-to-Moderate Income persons.
Eligible Counties Where Damage Occurred
The GLO is in charge of distributing money in Texas (through municipal and county governments) to people and areas affected by disasters declared as federal emergencies. In Texas in 2019 that meant ten counties in the Lower Rio Grand Valley and southeast Texas.
From June 24 to June 25, 2019, high rain totals within Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy Counties in the Rio Grand Valley led to street flooding and road closures; nearly 1,200 homes destroyed or in need of major repair; and over 100 people evacuated. Rainfall totals ranged from 12 and 18 inches in some locations.
In September, Tropical Storm Imelda caused $8 billion worth of damage in Chambers, Harris, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto and Orange Counties. Imelda, the seventh wettest storm in US history, dropped 40+ inches of rain in Chambers, Jefferson, and Liberty Counties. The highest total was in Fannett in Jefferson County where 44.29 inches fell.
How Money Will Be Distributed
HUD wants its money to increase the resiliency of homes and communities. Of the $212.714 million:
- 70% will go to improving housing resiliency
- 30% will go to improving infrastructure resiliency
Here’s the breakdown by by location and program in dollars and percentages. For a complete description of each program, see the Plan.
Eligible Single-Family Home Improvements
Single-family home resiliency solutions may include:
- Elevating the first floor of habitable area;
- Breakaway ground floor walls;
- Reinforced roofs;
- Storm shutters;
- Use of ENERGY STAR appliances and fixtures;
- Mold and mildew resistant products.
Eligible Multifamily Solutions
Multifamily resiliency solutions include:
- Retention basins;
- Fire-safe landscaping;
- Landscaped floodwalls
Eligible Infrastructure Solutions
Eligible infrastructure solutions include:
- Elevating critical systems, facilities, and roadways above base flood elevation;
- Installing backup power generators for critical systems (water, sewer, etc.);
- Avoiding an increase in impervious cover by keeping projects in their original footprint and encouraging the use of building practices that allow for more pervious coverage;
- Replanting with only native vegetation to preserve the natural environment;
- Storm water management including installing retention basins, larger culverts and debris guards, and erosion control solutions; and
- Supporting local community efforts to enhance building codes and regulations.
Limitations on Studies
Studies funded with this money may include, but are not limited to, flood control, resilient housing solutions, homelessness, or other efforts to mitigate future housing and residential damages.
Not for Feint of Heart
Warning: these 136-pages are intended for government experts and grant writers who deal with such programs all day every day. The information and its organization will prove difficult for average citizens. Think about the brain freeze you get with the giant DQ Blizzard. Now you have the picture.
Regardless, the persistent reader will be rewarded with a wealth of data about who was impacted when, where and how. Even the homeless.
The persistent reader will also get a good feeling for what’s allowed and not allowed under these rules. For instance, in 2019 disasters, victims can use grants to pay off loans. That was not allowed in Harvey.
Keep in mind that the dollars mentioned here are just for 2019 disasters, not Harvey, which follows similar, but not identical guidelines.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/3/2020
1070 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 319 after Imelda