Tag Archive for: General Land Office

GLO Releases Texas Coastal Resiliency Master Plan

Texas Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham, M.D. released the 2023 Texas Coastal Resiliency Master Plan (TCRMP) last month. It proposes a framework that addresses coastal hazards as well as investments that protect natural and man-made coastal environments.  The plan includes 52 Tier 1 priority projects in the Houston/Galveston area including 4 in Harris County.

121 Projects along 367 Miles of Coastline

The beautifully written and art-directed 356-page plan recommends a total of 121 projects prioritized as Tier 1 by the Texas General Land Office (GLO). In developing the plan, the GLO collaborated closely with a Technical Advisory Committee to mitigate issues that negatively impact the Texas coast. 

“Protecting our 367 miles of Texas coastline is vital to our state’s economy,” said Commissioner Buckingham. “The Texas Coastal Resiliency Master Plan provides a strategic path in prioritizing projects. It will ensure long-term resilience of our diverse coastal ecosystems and protect coastal resources for future generations. I want to thank the hundreds of members of the Technical Advisory Committee for the expertise and leadership they contributed to this comprehensive process.”

The Texas Coastal Resiliency Master Plan will help protect both coastal infrastructure and natural resources.

The plan’s recommended strategies and projects target areas in need of better protection and restoration.

Texas General Land Office

Plan Updated Every Four Years Addresses Variety of Threats

GLO updates the Coast Resiliency Master Plan every four years. It uses the most current storm surge and sea-level-rise models to illustrate the need and benefit of recommended projects. A list of high-priority coastal resiliency initiatives and projects was developed to address risks such as:

  • Storm surge
  • Inland flooding
  • Shoreline change
  • Degraded water quality and more.

Separate From, Yet Complementary to, Corps’ Plan

The TCRMP is separate from, yet complementary to, ongoing federal coastal protection efforts led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Federal efforts include the Coastal Texas Program and Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) Program, which focus on implementation of the Coastal Barrier System and other storm risk reduction projects.

The TCRMP provides a priority list of projects that could be funded through other federal, state, and local sources to work towards restoration and protection of areas not currently covered directly by the work of USACE.

While the TCRMP does not provide or guarantee funding to projects, it is designed to demonstrate funding need and cost estimates for proposed projects. Project initiatives range in status from conceptual to in progress, so actual costs may vary once implementation begins.

Technical Advisory Committee Helps Produce Broad Range of Materials

The Technical Advisory Committee included hundreds of:

  • Coastal planners
  • Community leaders and decision-makers
  • Coastal scientists and engineers
  • Ports and navigation professionals’
  • Technical experts
  • Resource agency and regulatory staff members
  • Other key stakeholders.

They assessed coastal vulnerabilities with cutting-edge science and data analysis to determine the vulnerability of natural systems to hazards such as floods, storms, and storm surge.

For more information, visit: www.glo.texas.gov/crmp. Components of the Texas Coastal Resiliency Master Plan include:

Story Map Provides Excellent Graphical Introduction

The Story Map gives you an excellent overview of the plan in an easy-to-digest graphical format.

Note the high level of extreme and imminent hazards along the upper Texas Coast. This area includes Galveston Bay.

Brown areas are in extreme danger. Red areas are under imminent threat.

Many of the recommended projects are in this area, including projects at Anahuac and McFadden National Wildlife Refuges.

To address the dangers, the report includes many different types of projects/solutions.

Recommendations span the gamut of green to gray.

See the Texas Coastal Resiliency Master Plan for descriptions of the actual recommended projects and their locations. Thirteen recommendations involve multiple regions. See the links below for more information on each.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/24/2023 based on information provided by the Texas General Land Office

2064 Days since Hurricane Harvey

$750 Million MOD Going to GLO

Correction: since posting this, I have learned that Community Services has not even started compiling a list of projects that will comprise the Method of Distribution. The department has only defined a “process” for compiling the list and is waiting for “direction from leadership.”

On September 8th, the Harris County Community Services Department (CSD) distributed a schedule showing that it would complete the first draft of its Method of Distribution (MOD) for spending $750 million in mitigation funding by the end of the month.

The Texas General Land Office (GLO) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocated the money to Harris County earlier last year. The draft MOD will now hopefully go to the GLO for review and approval by the end of October.

What MOD Entails

Early last year, the GLO allocated the money to Harris County along with another $450 million to the Houston-Galveston Area Council.

A MOD lists projects and amounts. It shows how Harris County wants to distribute the money, i.e., who will get how much for what from the $750 million.

will this get any of the $750 million in CDBG-MIT funds from the GLO?
US 59 at Townsen Boulevard during Hurricane Harvey

The GLO must verify that all planned expenditures meet requirements of the funding allocated by HUD and Congress.

MOD Developed With Public Input

Harris County CSD held online and in-person meetings to share information with the public. English-language meetings were held on August 17th,  25th, and 31st. CSD also held a Spanish meeting on September 1st. They then gathered written and oral comments from the public. (The deadline to submit comments has passed.)

Next Steps

After a public planning meeting on September 8th, CSD spent the rest of September developing a draft Method of Distribution (MOD) for the $750 million. The department will now submit it to the GLO for review and preliminary approval. Steps after that include:

  • Publish Draft MOD by October 30
  • Nov 15-Dec 2 – 15-day public comment Period and hearing
  • Contract entities included in the MOD with funding level and gain confirmation of participation via Funding Acknowledgement Letter from entity
  • Dec 5-7 – Document Responses to Public Comment, add to Draft MOD document
  • December or January- Draft MOD document approved at Commissioners Court
  • January 2023 – Final MOD document submitted to GLO
  • GLO approval of final MOD and MOD allocated entities complete project information package process
  • March/April 2023 – MOD Entity project information packets submitted to GLO for review and approval
  • Kick-off contract development for projects.

So, the GLO has until the end of the month to review and approve the draft MOD. Once approved, CSD can publish it. Then CSD will hold more public meetings and submit any revisions to Commissioners Court and the GLO for final approval.

Pressure On to Develop Projects Quickly

Expect projects to begin sometime in the second quarter of 2023. But keep in mind that all dates are subject to change.

Starting to develop projects almost six years after Harvey will put some pressure on Harris County Flood Control and any other entities designated as recipients.

  • 50% of the grant must be expended by Jan. 12, 2027.
  • 100% must be expended by January 12, 2032 – 15 years after Harvey

Half of the $750 million must be spent within four years. To put that in perspective, Flood Control estimates it’s only 23.5% done with a 10-year flood-bond package four years after it was approved by voters.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/1/2022

1859 Days since Hurricane Harvey

How to Speed Up Flood Mitigation Funding: Part II

Today marks the 1349th day since Hurricane Harvey. That’s also how long it took the United States to win World War II. To date, we’ve studied problems, made bold plans and, in a few cases, actually started constructing flood mitigation projects. But none of the $2.1 billion allocated for Texas flood mitigation by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has yet to work its way down to the local level.

The Townsen Overpass at US59 south of the San Jacinto West Fork during Harvey on 8/30/2017. Photo courtesy of Harris County Flood Control.

In the time it took us to win World War II, we’re still trying to line up flood mitigation financing.

Imagine What That HUD Money Could Have Done By Now

If Harris County Flood Control (HCFCD) had just half of that $2.1 billion, no one would be worrying about a funding shortfall for flood bond projects.

If HCFCD had just a quarter of that, it could more than triple the volume of flood mitigation projects currently under construction.

The Texas General Land Office (GLO) administers HUD flood mitigation funds for Texas. However, it has yet to announce the results of a statewide grant application competition for the first half of that $2.1 billion. Hopefully, those announcements will come this month. The GLO intends to hold a second competition for the second half of the money at a later date.

In fairness, the GLO is simply following HUD’s lead. Yesterday, GLO Commissioner George P. Bush suggested many ways to speed up existing flood-mitigation processes.

Below are thoughts contributed by others. To encourage their candor, I promised them anonymity.

I. Consolidation Under One Agency

One federal official suggested that all flood mitigation funds should flow from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), not HUD.

Rationale: Disaster relief is FEMA’s core competency. FEMA’s good at it. FEMA responds quickly. They are on location after disasters. They collect immense amounts of data, manage the National Flood Insurance Program, and have resources to get the job done quickly.

Right now, HUD, the slowest agency with the most rules and regulations, is responsible for helping the poorest neighborhoods, i.e., those that often need it most. Many think that’s unfair.

Dividing responsibilities among agencies creates needless bureaucracy, complexity, overlap and “stove piping.”

Stove-piping is where people in one bureaucracy are blind to activities in another. Eliminating the stove-piping requires cross checking data between agencies and programs, for instance to eliminate duplication of benefits. But that can also slow projects down.

II. Bring Back Earmarks in Some Cases

Another flood-mitigation expert suggested bringing back “earmarks” at the federal level. Earmarks were eliminated years ago to avoid spending on meritless projects in influential congressional districts.

Rationale: Not all earmarks are meritless. In cases of exceptional need, they can send money directly to cities or counties trying to build important flood mitigation projects. With proper safeguards against bogus earmarks, this idea could shave years off construction projects designed to protect people.

III. Partner with Army Corps More

Another expert suggested directing more money to the Army Corps for “project partnership agreements.” The Corps work directly with a local entity such as a city or county to help construct projects faster.

Rationale: The Corps was originally set up more than 200 years ago as a quick-reaction force for wartime. It now has the responsibility for managing the nation’s water infrastructure. The Corps has the turnkey expertise to gauge the merit of projects and the muscle to make things happen quickly.

HCFCD is currently working with HCFCD on projects in the Hunting, Brays, and White Oak Bayou Watersheds.

Previously, the Corps built the Antoine Stormwater Detention Basin in the Greens Bayou Watershed. HCFCD bought out the properties that comprised that basin and currently maintains the property.

IV. Establish a “Quick Reaction Fund”

A financial expert suggested establishing a “Quick Reaction Fund.” It would be activated by a Presidential Disaster Declaration and provide loans to get projects started quickly. The money could be used to jumpstart upfront activities, such as buyouts, environmental surveys and preliminary engineering reports. It could also be used to build entire projects that are needed quickly.

Rationale: Local entities often don’t have the money or staff to conduct these upfront activities. Buyouts can be especially problematic. They must often be completed before other flood mitigation activities, such as ditch improvements or detention ponds, can start.

“But we often have to wait 18 months or more for approval of buyouts,” said one engineer. “The vast majority of people can’t wait that long.”

So they fix up their homes and become more committed to them. Or they may just leave the area. Either way, this slows flood mitigation down even more.

A Forest Cove townhome just beyond the new Houston Parks Board San Jacinto Greenway. Harvey made the entire 80-townhome complex uninhabitable. Many residents left the area because they got tired of waiting for buyouts that are still not complete. That makes buyouts even more time consuming. Photo taken May 3, 2021.

The Quick Reaction Fund could help complete buyouts in months – instead of years – after a flood.

Loans could be paid back later by grant awards from the Feds.

V. Pass a Hazard Tax

To bypass the delays and uncertainties of competitive grant funding through state and federal levels, one local entity suggested passing a “hazard tax.”

Rationale: This would put local entities in charge of their own destinies rather than making them dependent on Washington and Austin for handouts. It would let cities and counties build up a war chest from their own tax revenues. Think of it as a savings account with a dedicated purpose – disaster mitigation. The money could be used to fund projects directly and quickly, or as the basis for matching funds when projects are less time critical.

Need Public Dialog

The rationale FOR the current system of competitive grant funding is to ensure the fairest possible distribution of available funds. But that requires defining and agreeing to eligibility rules upfront. It also requires upfront research, engineering, cost estimating and evaluation to prevent waste and fraud. All of that can take years. Hell, we’re still debating solutions to another Hurricane Ike (2008).

In my opinion, we desperately need a way to resolve such issues faster. I hope this series of articles will start a public dialogue among political leaders at all levels.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/9/2021

1349 Days after Hurricane Harvey, the number of days in WWII

GLO Announces Homeowner Assistance, Reimbursement Programs for Imelda

The Texas General Land Office will begin taking applications this Saturday, April 24, for Imelda assistance. $71,604,000 is available for Chambers, Harris, Liberty, Jefferson, Montgomery, Orange and San Jacinto Counties.

.Land Commissioner George P. Bush has announced locations of regional Homeowner Assistance and Reimbursement Programs (HARP) offices in advance of the 24th. 

Applicants will be able to schedule an appointment in person in advance for the same day that applications will be available online.

Money Can Be Used For…

The money will cover repair or reconstruction of owner-occupied single-family homes and reimbursement up to $50,000 for certain out-of-pocket expenses incurred for reconstruction, rehabilitation, or mitigation.

Repayment of SBA loans is also eligible for reimbursement.

Car submerged during Imelda in Elm Grove. Photo courtesy of Allyssa Harris.

Appointments Required for In-Person Assistance

“Thousands of homes in Southeast Texas were damaged during during Imelda, devastating the livelihoods of countless Texans,” said Commissioner Bush. “In advance of the Homeowner Assistance and Reimbursement Programs application being released, the GLO is announcing locations of offices to provide residents with help applying for assistance.

Evacuation from Elm Grove during Imelda. Photo courtesy of Keith Stewart.

Where to Get Help

All applicants must make an appointment before visiting an office location.

Appointments will ensure proper capacity under COVID-19 restrictions. Applicants may request additional hours.

Harris County
Location: St. Mark’s United Methodist Church
3811 N Main St, Baytown, TX 77521-3305 

Montgomery County
Location: North Montgomery County Community Center
600 Gerald St, Willis, TX 77378-3477 

Chambers County
Location: Chambers County Municipal Building
211 Broadway, Winnie, TX 77665-7781 

San Jacinto County
Location: Coldspring Area Public Library
14221 State Hwy 150 West, Coldspring, TX 77331 

Jefferson County
Location: First City Building 505 Orleans Street, Beaumont, TX 77701
Hours: By appointment only: Monday – Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm
By appointment only: Saturday 8:00am – 12:00pm         

Orange County
Location: Orange County Convention and Expo Center
11475 FM 1442, Orange, TX 77630-5227 

Pop-up Intake Locations
Hours: All by appointment only
Phone Number: 844-484-4277 (844-484-HARP)     

Main Regional Office:
Phone Number: 844-484-4277 (844-484-HARP) 

Liberty County residents are eligible. An office in Liberty County may be announced in the future. For now, work through the main regional office above (in Beaumont).

Online, Email, Phone Assistance

Interested homeowners may also visit http://recovery.texas.gov/harp to apply online or download a printable version of the application.

Additionally, applicants may email the GLO at cdr@recovery.texas.gov or call 1-844-893-8937 to get help applying.” Up to date office locations and additional information are available at http://recovery.texas.gov/harp

Before You Apply, Understand These Things

A single application can be submitted for reimbursement AND repair assistance.

However, an application must be submitted along WITH required documents for consideration.

HARP is “first-come, first-served,” and all homeowners are encouraged to apply immediately.

Households applying for reimbursement that do not meet the low-to moderate-income (LMI) threshold will be processed after the first six months from application opening, but may receive construction assistance prior to then, based on their application date.

HARP is only available for the homeowner’s primary residence.  

Documents You Need Before Applying

Potential applicants should review the Homeowner Assistance and Reimbursement Programs Checklist to have all applicable documents ready prior to applying.

Potential applicants can also find in-person assistance at regional HARP offices serving their area. In addition to a main office in each region, each county will have at least one application drop off location or satellite office. Additional satellite offices and application intake locations may be announced in the future and will be viewable at http://recovery.texas.gov/harp.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/21/21 based on information provided by the Texas General Land Office

1331 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 580 since Imelda

Disaster Recovery Disaster: Part 1

After Harvey, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) made $1.3 billion in disaster recovery funds available for housing assistance to the City of Houston through the Texas General Land Office (GLO). The City kicked off several disaster recovery programs with great fanfare in January of 2019. However, in almost two years, the City has only helped 1.4% of eligible applicants for assistance and an estimated 0.5% of those who flooded without insurance. The second figure includes flooded homeowners who could have applied, but didn’t.

City of Houston Housing and Community Development on January 14, 2019. Mayor Turner said, “Thousands of Houstonians who were affected by Hurricane Harvey have been waiting for this day.” Most are still waiting.

Programs Announced in January 2019 Quickly Fall Behind Schedule

The programs were primarily designed to repair and reconstruct single- and multi-family homes, and to reimburse owners for repairs they made. However, almost from the outset, the program failed to reach its own goals and has fallen progressively farther behind.

A HUD audit in November of 2019 panned the City for failure to staff the program adequately. It also expressed concerns about the City’s lack of transparency, not posting plan documents online, not bidding contracts competitively, failure to follow HUD rules, and failure to meet objectives.

GLO Attempts to Help Rebuffed by City

The GLO, which is responsible for overseeing the program and ultimately for the money itself, sent a “strike force” to assist the City, train employees and get the programs back on track. However, the Director of the City’s Housing and Community Development Department, which conducts these programs, told the GLO’s strike team they were not welcome and told them to leave the Department’s office, according to Brittany Eck, a GLO spokesperson.

As the City fell further behind schedule in 2020, the GLO tried to take over some of the programs. Eck says GLO wanted to help the City focus on those where it had more success. However, the City also rebuffed those efforts. The City filed a lawsuit to prevent the GLO from taking back the programs. Ultimately, HUD stepped in and approved an “Action Plan Amendment” that resulted in cancelation of the City’s contract.

The City still pushed back. The Mayor claimed the program was on track to achieve its objectives, despite a rapidly approaching December 31, 2020 deadline for the reimbursement program.

Other programs for reconstruction, repair and rehab expire in 2024. But it takes time to design, permit, bid and construct homes. And it takes even more time to get approvals through the City, GLO and HUD. So…

According to the GLO, even the 2024 deadline is in jeopardy at this time.

Reimbursement Program May Come Back to City

The GLO reportedly may give the reimbursement program back to the City. With only two months left before the deadline, GLO doesn’t have time to get program changes approved through HUD, transfer files, and still reimburse flood victims who paid out of pocket for reconstruction.

But it’s unclear whether the City will commit to meeting all of the GLO’s performance benchmarks and deadlines. No one at the City will comment publicly. Eck said no commitments had yet been made, but might come as early as the end of today.

Reasons for Clawback of Some Programs

We’ve all heard the news reports about the City’s performance or lack thereof. But aside from the small number of homes completed, reports don’t go into much detail. Eck, the GLO’s spokesperson, spent hours explaining the complexities behind published numbers.

First, let me say, it’s difficult to compare the State’s numbers with the City’s. The two entities refer to programs differently. And they sometimes reflect different time periods or different stages of completion.

Plus, the City generally reports numbers for itself that are higher than the GLO’s numbers for the City. However, the differences are so small in the grand scheme of things that they get lost in rounding. So to eliminate charges of political bias, I have simply accepted the City’s numbers in almost all cases for the analysis below, except where the City does not supply numbers.

High-Level Findings

The deeper you dig, the more several things become clear:

Let’s address the first point and cover the others in later posts.

Application Process Started with Pre-qualification Survey

First, you need to understand the two-step application process. First, the City conducted a survey to screen applicants. Second, those who appeared to qualify were invited to apply for aid.

21,156 households took the survey. Of those, the City estimated 16,651 qualified for some kind of aid. See the screen capture below taken from the City’s website.

Many Still Waiting for Invite to Submit Application

Many families who qualified are still waiting to be invited to submit an application. The last “situation and pipeline” report posted on the City’s website shows 6,541 households “Pending invitation” as of 8/31/2020 (see page 6).

City’s Self-Reported Results

The City claims that it reimbursed 82 households a total of $1.455 million. That works out to $18,903 per household. Neither the total nor the household numbers seem large for a program almost 2 years old and a disaster as large as Harvey. $1.5 million is less than a third of the $5 million that the City is paying vendor ICF for “Outreach , Intake and Case Management Services.”

On the right side of the diagram above, the City also says that it sent out “Notices to Proceed with Construction” for another 149 homeowners. Those notices covered almost another $32 million. Those average $214,765 per household. But construction has not yet finished on all of those.

How Grants to Date Compare With Need

Here’s a link to Harris County Flood Control’s final report on Hurricane Harvey. On Page 13, it says:

  • 154,170 homes flooded in the county
  • 64% did not have flood insurance
  • So that’s roughly 100,000 homes without flood insurance (a major qualification for HUD grants). 

The City has half the population of the county. So, let’s assume that approximately 50,000 households flooded in the City that could have theoretically applied for assistance. But according to the City graphic above, only 21,000 households took the survey. And the City says 16,651 of those were eligible (about a third of flooded homes without insurance). 

But regardless, if you accept the City numbers, they have helped 231 families so far (82 + 149) out of 16,651 eligible survey respondents. And that doesn’t even include another 30,000 families that didn’t take the survey!

So, in almost two years, the City has only helped 1.4% of eligible survey respondents. And roughly 0.5% of those who flooded without insurance.

Calculated from data supplied by City of Houston and Harris County Flood Control District

$800 Million in Disaster Relief Remains Uncommitted At This Point

When you add in the number of projects in the pipeline (identified and under contract), the percentages look somewhat better. However, that cannot obscure the fact that the reimbursement program will expire in two months, and almost $800 million remains uncommitted (see circle diagram below). Now the City did not allocate all of that for reimbursing people who fixed their own homes. But they did allocate more than $400 million for homeowner assistance (see table on right below).

This PDF shows a summary status report dated 10/15/2020. It provides additional insight into the various types of programs on the right.

City Has Awarded Less than 10% of Projections It Made 16 Months Ago

HUD approved the GLO’s third-amended state-action plan on June 13, 2019.

By the City’s own projections at the time, it should have expended $261 million by now ($1.275 billion minus $1.014 billion). However, the GLO says the City has only drawn down $24.6 million, according to Eck. That’s less than 10% of the projection the City made 16 months ago.


The GLO says that the City has pushed deadlines back month after month, always using the excuse that they’re right on the cusp of turning over a large number of applications for approval.

Future Aid At Stake

Sources familiar with how HUD works indicate that non-performance on this contract could jeopardize future HUD aid to the City.

Meanwhile, I know one applicant for reimbursement who completed the City’s survey the very first day it was available. Her application still has not been processed. But, she says, the City hopes to work on it soon! That’s better than the 6,541 people still waiting for the City to invite them to submit an application.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/23/2020

1151 Days after 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.

Harris County Declared Federal Disaster Area in Wake of Imelda; State Taking Control of Disaster Mitigation Funding

On October 1st, Governor Greg Abbott sent a disaster-request letter to President Trump in response to the damage caused by Tropical Storm Imelda. The 31-page letter to President Trump lays out the case for Federal aid. It also includes an impressive catalog of storm-related damages.

The thirteen counties impacted by Tropical Storm Imelda (Imelda) are still recovering from previous disasters, including Hurricane Harvey. The population of the counties affected by Imelda exceeds 7.59 million people. That represents more than a quarter of the state’s population.

Six Counties Declared Disaster Area

Abbott requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration for the six counties in the Gulf Coast region that sustained severe flooding. Today, the President granted Governor Abbott’s request.

That means Individual Assistance for those in Chambers, Harris, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, and Orange counties will now become available. The Governor’s press release states that “Individual Assistance includes up to $35,500 per household for damages sustained during the severe weather.”

“This means that even if people did not have flood insurance, they may receive financial aid and low-cost SBA loans,” said Kaaren Cambio, staff assistant for Congressman Dan Crenshaw.

GLO Designated to Lead Disaster Mitigation Efforts

In a separate statement, the Governor announced that Commissioner George P. Bush and the Texas General Land Office will lead the State’s comprehensive disaster mitigation program. Bush will direct more than $4 billion in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant for Mitigation (CDBG-MIT).

The program will prioritize large-scale, regional projects that increase the state’s resilience to disasters statewide, protect lives and mitigate against future hurricanes and other natural disasters. Bush says he will focus on projects that benefit the most Texans. That means “prioritizing regional partnerships to protect Texans from future storms.”

On August 23, 2019, HUD released mandatory rules for the use of more than $4.3 billion in funding for mitigation projects. They covered money appropriated by Congress on February 9, 2018. Before the GLO could begin drafting a state action plan, those rules had to be published in the Federal Register. The GLO has already begun drafting the plan. It should take approximately nine months or more to complete, at which time, the GLO can send it to HUD for approval.

In total, HUD allocated $4,383,085,000 in CDBG-MIT funds to Texas. Altogether, 140 Texas counties are eligible for some part of this allocation of funding for 2015, 2016, and 2017 (Hurricane Harvey) disasters.

ABC13 Says Choice of GLO Was Response to Slow Pace of Recovery

Ted Oberg of ABC13 News reported today that Abbott tapped the GLO because the City of Houston and Harris County were not moving fast enough with their flood mitigation efforts. The article’s headline says, “Slow pace costs Houston, Harris County control of flood money.” It begins, “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has taken notice of Houston’s slow-moving progress with its Harvey recovery program.”

“Houston and Harris County’s lack of movement on Harvey housing recovery is the reason the city and county will not get a direct allocation. Victims need this money. That’s why this will go through GLO,” Abbott spokesman John Wittman told 13 Investigates’ Ted Oberg.

In the Mayoral Debate on Wednesday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that the city had received $1.3 billion for home repair and recovery.

Oberg reported in June, 2019, that only four people received housing aid as of that date, despite private companies being paid millions to operate the program. Oberg says that the City’s latest figures show that since then, only an additional 11 people have received financial assistance, despite more than 16,400 homeowners expressing interest in it. 

As of August 1, of the 4,900 people that the City invited to apply for its federally-funded Homeowner Assistance Programs, less than half submitted an application.

Reaction from Local Officials

According to Oberg, Mayor Sylvester Turner said, “It’s on them now.”

Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a statement to 13 Investigates. “While we’re disappointed in Governor Abbott’s decision to run this program out of Austin instead of providing us local control, we’ll continue to work as a team to make sure we apply every single federal dollar available towards building a stronger, safer Harris County.”

Questions Still Remain

It’s still unclear to me at this hour how the GLO’s focus on large scale mitigation projects affects individual homeowners seeking financial assistance. They seem to tap two different pots of money. But they also seem to have been conflated by the reporting on this issue. Let’s hope that the state can speed things up on both fronts. Flooded homeowners need help immediately, not three years after the disaster.

More than a dozen homes on Dunnam Road near Tailor Gulley flooded for the second time in four months during Imelda. The owner of the home on the left told me he did not apply for federal assistance.

Need to Re-engineer Disaster Mitigation is NOT in Question

As I’ve stated before, we need to re-engineer the whole disaster mitigation business. Sometimes fewer people, not more, can get results faster.

Harris County’s Final Harvey report stated: “Based on house flooding assessments, the estimated total number of homes flooded within Harris County is 154,170.” That only 15 homeowners have received HUD financial assistance more than two years after Harvey is an indictment of the whole crazy system that has evolved.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/3/2019

766 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 15 since Imelda