Two letters from Texas General Land Office (GLO) – one to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the other to US Representatives Al Green and Sylvia Garcia – explain the GLO’s awards in a recent competition for $1.1 billion in Harvey mitigation funding.
GLO Commissioner George P. Bush sent the first letter to HUD on May 27, shortly after the GLO “snubbed” (according to Mayor Sylvester Turner) Houston and Harris County. Outraged politicians at City Hall and the County Courthouse organized a protest campaign targeted at the HUD and the GLO. These two letters lay out a slightly different mitigation funding story than the one peddled to Houston media outlets by the City and County. Most media coverage trumpeted how Houston and Harris County got “zero” out of competition because of political warfare between Republicans in Austin and Democrats here.
The facts in these two letters got very little play in Houston media.
Bush Letter to HUD Requests $750 Million Direct Allocation for Harris County
Bush’s letter explains to HUD how the GLO organized and scored grant applications in the competition. The letter also explains how:
- GLO received more than $6.5 billion in grant requests for $1.1 billion during floods in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
- Money was awarded based on a numeric scoring system approved by HUD
- Harris County was one of dozens of counties affected by the three storms
- Harris County and Harris County communities were awarded $90.4 million and $26.7 million for a total of $117,213,863.96 in the first round of mitigation competition.
- He (Bush) is submitting a “new action plan amendment” to that will direct $750 million to Harris County.
- GLO recognizes the great need for mitigation funding in Harris County.
- GLO supports a direct allocation to Harris County (non-competitive)
- He (Bush) requests speedy approval of the action plan amendment/direct allocation.
Hmmmmm. $117 million is a little more than zero. However, the point to remember here is that Harris County Flood Control got zero. The $117 went to cities within Harris County to improve resilience.
Havens’ Letter Cites HUD Restrictions, Slow Rate of Drawdown for Previous Programs
Deputy GLO Land Commissioner Mark Havens penned the second letter to Green and Garcia on June 10, 2021. It begins by making some of the same points about $6.5 billion in applications, HUD-approved rules, etc. But then, in regard to the rules he adds something new in the debate.
Deputy Commissioner Havens also points out that:
- The previous HUD secretary was adamant that a direct allocation didn’t go to Houston and Harris County, and that all counties should be eligible for funds.
- If you add the $117 million mentioned above to the $750 million direct allocation requested by Bush, Harris County would actually get $867 million which the County could then share with the City of Houston as it saw fit.
- Harris County also set aside $120 million in infrastructure funding out of the original $2.5 billion allocated to the County and City in the first round of Hurricane Harvey funding.
- The City also received a direct allocation of $61,884,000 in mitigation funding out of the original $2.5 billion.
- Out of the $2.5 billion, only $91,225,206 – or 3.6% of the total has been drawn down to date.
- If the City and County don’t dramatically speed up the distribution of these funds, the funds will be returned to HUD.
- HUD not yet responded to the request for the $750 million direct allocation.
For More Information
For the full text of:
To see the full text of other documents relating to this issue, see the links this post.
Flood mitigation should be non-partisan. This is about helping people whose lives were destroyed by flooding, not finger pointing. I’m not taking sides. I’m just trying to help give you the information you need about mitigation funding to intelligently question the officials you elected to serve you.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/15/2021
1386 Days since Hurricane Harvey