Tag Archive for: reimbursement

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

GLO Reimbursement Program Helped Rebuild 2961 Homes While Houston’s Helped Only 119

The Texas General Land Office (GLO) announced last week that it has successfully completed its Reimbursement Program from Hurricane Harvey. It was a first-of-its-kind program and concluded after providing nearly $86 million to almost 3,000 Texas homeowners. The GLO also announced that it had reconstructed its 2,500th home under its Harvey Homeowner Assistance Program.

Two Major Milestones Reached in Same Week

The two GLO disaster recovery programs are helping Texans across 48 counties (outside of Harris County and the city of Houston) whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. The two programs have now helped nearly 5,500 Texas homeowners recover from Harvey.

The GLO’s reimbursement program concluded after assisting 2,961 Texans with a total of $85,989,042 in reimbursements for out-of-pocket home repair expenses. In the same week, the GLO reached another milestone – reconstruction of 2,500 homes damaged during Harvey.

Texas General Land Office

“Every day at the General Land Office we work to help improve the lives of Texans,” said Commissioner Bush. “The GLO is proud to be setting a record pace in disaster recovery while helping thousands of Texas families rebuild their lives and their homes. The GLO continues to leverage federal dollars efficiently and effectively to help Texas families and communities rebuild and mitigate against future storms.”

Click for video

Details of Reimbursement Program

This week the Texas General Land Office completed its Homeowner Reimbursement Program (HRP) when it approved the final reimbursements for eligible homeowners.

The HRP program provided reimbursements up to $50,000 for Hurricane Harvey-impacted homeowners who used their life savings or other personal funds to pay out-of-pocket for disaster recovery repairs. The program’s efficiency yielded an additional $3 million in costs savings, which enabled the program to provide reimbursements for all applicants eligible under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) rules for the available Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding.

Homeowner Assistance Program Details

In the same week that the GLO successfully completed its Reimbursement Program, the GLO handed keys to a fully rebuilt home to the 2,500th Homeowner Assistance Program (HOAP) recipient. So far, approximately 4,300 HOAP applicants have been approved for assistance by the GLO. Of those, about 1,400 applications are in pre-construction (awaiting applicant approval of final design plans and permits). Four hundred more homes are currently under construction in addition to those already completed.

Before the HOAP program concludes, GLO anticipates that it will help rebuild more than 6,000 homes. It will do so using more than $1.3 billion in available Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). The GLO will also use an additional $500 million in Community Development Block Grants for Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Results Invite Comparison to City of Houston’s

The City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department updates its comparable statistics weekly.

City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department statistics as of 1.20.21

During the period that the GLO reimbursed 2961 homeowners, Houston reimbursed 119. And while the GLO reconstructed 2500 homes, the City reconstructed only 117.

Thus, the GLO was 20-25X more effective in finding and helping applicants than the City of Houston. And the GLO covered a 48-county area.

Possible Reasons for Huge Disparity

The GLO reviews City applications before forwarding them to HUD for final approval and funding. In trying to explain possible reasons for the disparity in results, a GLO spokesperson pointed to the needlessly complex structure of the City’s program.

The GLO also pointed out that many of the applications submitted by the City were incomplete and that the City’s data formatting was inconsistent.

When the GLO sent a team to Houston to help train City employees handling applications, GLO helpers were not allowed to enter City offices.

Harvey damaged more than 96,000 homes in Houston.

The City of Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department still has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/24/2021 based on data published by the Texas GLO and Houston Housing and Community Development

1244 Days after Hurricane Harvey

City of Houston Couldn’t Even Give Away Harvey Aid Due to Bureaucratic Bungling

As a December 31st deadline expired, approximately $162 million – allocated by HUD to reimburse homeowners in the City of Houston for repairs they made after Harvey – remained unused. The City had worked on the reimbursement program for TWO years. Yet in all that time, the City’s Department of Housing and Community Development successfully processed only 120 applications for reimbursement of repairs. Grants awarded to those 120 families totaled a mere $2,024,000 out of the $164 million allocated – just 1.2% of available funds.

Desperate Families Needlessly Left Empty Handed

Meanwhile, flooded families:

  • Never received applications, despite repeated calls and emails from potential applicants
  • Received an application only hours before the deadline expired on the New Year’s weekend
  • Received incomplete and misleading information.

Regarding the last point, an email sent to residents at the 11th hour failed to inform them that they just needed to start the application and sign it before January 1st. Instead, residents were told that they needed to complete the application before December 31 (i.e., before the end of the day on December 30).

A two-step application process, engineered by the City, complicated and delayed aid. Residents first had to fill out a survey to qualify to fill out an application. The City then tried to sort the survey respondents into priority groups. This increased the workload, created management complexity, and delayed the filing of formal applications for years while the deadline passed.

Had everyone just been invited to fill out an application early on, no one would have missed the deadline.

Help From GLO Refused

Worse yet, after missing one interim deadline after another, the City refused to let the Texas General Land Office (GLO) help. The GLO oversees HUD funds distributed in Texas. It had sent a team to Houston to help train City employees. However, the City refused to allow the GLO team into the Housing and Community Development offices.

As the final deadline loomed, it became apparent that the City wasn’t coming close to meeting its performance goals and that aid would not reach people who needed it. As a last resort to help flood victims, the GLO tried to terminate its contract with the City and take over the City’s Harvey-aid program. But the City sued the GLO to prevent the takeover. That cost even more precious time.

Before the final deadline, the GLO notified the City that it should alert all potential applicants and the media so that they, in turn, could spread the word about the impending deadline. The GLO even provided a sample press release that the City could tweak for local media. Instead, the City posted a notice on Twitter and social media. That severely limited the reach of the message.

Confusion Reigned

To this day, lawsuit settlement talks between the City and GLO continue. Meanwhile, the GLO provided the City of Houston with funds for the Homeowner Assistance Program (HoAP), which included its reimbursement program.

But according to Jennifer Coulter, a would-be applicant who called the City, the City swore the GLO had taken control. The resident then called the GLO. GLO correctly said, “No, the City has it.” The back-and-forth continued until she was told the deadline passed.

The Coulter family lived in a trailer in their driveway for almost two years as they repaired their home.

Resident Chris Johnsen flooded 4 feet during Harvey. After waiting 3.5 years for help, he received an email from Housing and Community Development minutes before the close of business on December 30. It erroneously told him he needed to complete and sign the application before December 31.

He was out of town when the application arrived at 4:08 PM on December 30th, but submitted it after he returned. The City rejected his application. When he complained, the City told him, “Unfortunately we are not able to accept the application because it is past the deadline of 12/31/2020.”

Adding Insult to Injury

Being flooded during Harvey and financially devastated during reconstruction were bad enough. But being denied aid through the City’s bureaucratic bungling added insult to injury. Ironically, the City requested and received a nearly $30 million increase in the amount of aid available for reimbursements part way through the program…and didn’t make a dent in it. The amount increased from $135,691,299 to $164,117,633.

Meanwhile, people are moving on with their lives and giving up. But maybe that’s the City’s intention.

The Big Question: Why?

The Department of Housing and Community Development’s avowed goal with Harvey relief is to focus on those “most in need and most at risk.” People who can afford to repair their own homes and then seek reimbursement generally do not fall into that category. By law, at least 70% of HUD reimbursement funds must go to LMI (low-to-moderate income) households.

However, the 70% requirement does not apply to each individual program within Houston’s total aid allocation. It’s an average requirement across all programs. So the entire $164 million allocated for reimbursements could have gone to non-LMI households without jeopardizing the City’s LMI requirement.

This has all the hallmarks of a conscious decision to limit reimbursement aid after requesting more. Why?

One observer suggested that spending less on reimbursements will let the City funnel those funds into multifamily housing instead.

Death of Hope

96,410 homes flooded in Houston during Harvey (see page 15) and could theoretically have been eligible for reimbursements. But only 120 received reimbursement checks by the end of 2020 – again, about 1.2%. See below.

In contrast, the GLO started its own reimbursement program (for the 48 counties in which it is administering the program) on February 28, 2019, and has already completed the program with nearly 3,000 reimbursements approved for more than $85 million.

This brings to a sad, sorry end one of the darkest chapters in Houston’s history. The end of the program means the death of hope for families desperate for assistance. Many cashed in retirement savings and their children’s college funds to rebuild their homes after Harvey.

The City claims hundreds of additional families filed applications before the end of the year for reimbursements. But the GLO has not yet confirmed those.

The City is allowed to process applications received before January 1. But the City can no longer accept applications.

Reimbursements: A Small Part of a Much Bigger Problem

On January 4, the City updated its HUD-compliance website. It showed that out of approximately $1.28 billion dollars that HUD set aside for City of Houston residents, the City still had not submitted applications for almost $800 million dollars (62.5% of the total). Said another way, the City could not achieve almost two thirds of its aid-distribution goals in two years.

The City has not returned calls, texts and emails from ReduceFlooding.com requesting comment and the City’s perspective.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/13/2021

1233 Days since Hurricane Harvey