Amendment 11 from the Texas Hurricane Harvey Action plan will let the Texas General Land Office (GLO) take over unused money from seven Houston disaster relief funds. The money will be reallocated to a state-run Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP) currently administered by the GLO on behalf of Houston residents.
On 10/7/22, GLO posted Amendment 11 to the State’s Action Plan for $5.676 billion in Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) related to Hurricane Harvey. View the entire 461-page Action Plan Amendment 11 at https://recovery.texas.gov/public-notices/index.html. Or see the major changes below.
Reallocation of $141 Million
Amendment 11 deals with the $1.2 billion in CDBG-DR funds previously allocated to and administered by the City of Houston. The amendment reallocates $140,930,253 in unused funds from seven City of Houston disaster relief programs. The money will be reallocated to a state-run Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP) administered by the GLO on behalf of Houston residents.
The GLO acted after the City missed contractual benchmarks designed to ensure that funds for City of Houston residents are expended before HUD’s final program deadlines.
GLO currently administers the “City of Houston Homeowner Assistance Program,” nicknamed HAP, the acronym used by the state as opposed to HoAP, which the City used.
Latest City Pipeline Report
The City doesn’t publish statistics for all of its programs in its monthly “Pipeline Reports.” However, the most recent, dated 9/6/2022 shows the following:
According to the City’s own statistics, it helped only 704 homeowners in all three categories in the five years since Harvey. That’s out of 96,410 homes that flooded inside the City limits during the storm. That’s less than three-quarters of 1%.
- Approximately one out of six families invited to apply for aid submitted applications.
- Of those who completed applications, approximately two out of three were eligible.
- But of those, only 807 applications made it to the GLO for approval.
- The GLO approved all of those but 10.
- So 9,422 applicants were left in the pipeline (10,229 – 807).
Reallocated Funds Will Stay in Houston
Six hundred and forty six days have elapsed since the City’s Housing and Community Development Department cut off applications at the end of 2020.
This whole issue came to a head several years ago when the GLO attempted to step in once before as programs were expiring. The City sued the GLO to keep the programs. A settlement let the GLO keep some and the City others. But it also stipulated that the City had to meet strict deadlines and quotas.
The City had to clear a certain percentage of its backlogs each month. The City missed those contractual deadlines repeatedly according to the GLO. And now the GLO is stepping in to help as many people as it can with the unused funds.
The GLO will only reallocate funds not already obligated to a project by the City. All funds will stay in Houston to benefit the residents of Houston. Funds should now get to residents in a faster and more efficient manner.
GLO has helped thousands of homeowners statewide in less time than the City has helped several hundred.
Reasons Cited for Delays, Slowness
The City blames the GLO for delays. However, many of the applications submitted by the City to the GLO early on were incomplete, lacked required documentation, or didn’t meet program requirements. Reasons cited for the Houston Housing and Community Development Department problems included bad hiring decisions, poor record keeping, training failures, refusal to accept help, political interference, unwillingness to follow GLO recommendations, making programs overly complicated, late starts, and procedural violations.
A HUD audit in late 2021 also ripped the department for conflicts of interest and failure to document recommendations.
The GLO maintains it has not slowed the City of Houston from using disaster recovery funds – only prevented the City from using them improperly. “Any delays are a result of the City of Houston’s misplaced focus on circumventing rules and requirements,” said a GLO spokesperson.
Attempting to Help Those in Need Faster
Caught in the middle are the most vulnerable among us.
According to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) statistics, nearly 90% of the homeowners served by the affected programs have incomes less than 80% of the area’s median income (AMI).
Nearly two thirds of the Houston homeowners served by the GLO’s program make less than 30% of the AMI. In Houston, this would include families of four living on $26,600 or less.
Also, 64% of the homeowners identify as Black/African American and 25% identify as Hispanic/Latino.
Finally, about 87% of approved homeowners are female heads of households and at least 72% are aged 65 or older.
The GLO’s Houston HAP demographics are updated monthly and available online.
Main Changes in Amendment 11
City of Houston Impacts
The amendment includes the following changes. Funds remaining with the City of Houston for all disaster recovery programs would be reduced to $694,157,590 from $835 million.
The difference – $140,930,253 in uncommitted funds – would be taken from the following City programs, which would be reduced to:
- Homeowner Assistance Program (HoAP) – $69,188,511.
- Multifamily Rental Program – $400,855,752.
- Small Rental Program – $12,943,423.
- Homebuyer Assistance Program – $18,381,000.
- Public Service – $20,000,000.
- Economic Revitalization Program – $18,888,904.
State of Texas Impacts
- State administered disaster recovery programs increase to $4,064,897,426.
- The State-administered City of Houston Homeowner Assistance Program increases to $565,601,475.
The last total exceeds the $141 million because the State had previously taken over several programs that the City relinquished.
To Comment on Amendment 11…
The amendment triggers a federally required 30-day public comment period.
Submit all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, to be considered. Per federal requirements, the GLO must respond to public comments before the amendment can be sent to HUD for its 45-day final approval.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/8/22
1866 Days since Hurricane Harvey
The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.