HOUSTON – Houston area representatives gathered Thursday to call upon the Texas General Land Office to ensure the worst-hit areas by Hurricane Harvey in the city and Harris County will receive the funds allocated by Congress.
Congressman Al Green, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher and Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia all agreed that GLO needed to amend its plans so the funds can also be allocated to Houston and Harris County during the press conference.
Green said no resident in the Houston area should be left behind when the money was intended for the hard-hit areas. He said GLO submitted a plan under the Trump Administration and should amend its state action plan so Houston and Harris County will have a fair share.
“In no universe should the people of Houston and Harris County be denied a fair amount of funding for the harm suffered during the catastrophic flooding that occurred not only during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, but also other floods in 2015 and 2016 as well,” said Congressman Al Green who serves as Chairman of the Texas Democratic Congressional Delegation for the 117th Congress. “The GLO’s initial action plan was submitted and approved under the Trump Administration, not the Biden Administration. Whether with intent or by accident, Commissioner Bush is politicizing the needs of our constituents. Harvey was not a Democratic disaster, nor was it a Republican flood. Blaming the Biden Administration is not a good strategy. The GLO must amend their state action plan and include a fair share of dollars for Houston and Harris County since each sustained major damage from Harvey. If the plan is not amended and subsequently approved by HUD, no one gets any money. GLO needs to amend its plan.”
Almost four years ago, Hurricane Harvey destroyed homes and businesses causing billions of dollars in damage.
“Trillions of gallons of water made Houston and Harris County near an ocean.,” Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said.
GLO was tasked with distributing $1 billion from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the flood.
Last week, Houston and Harris County leaders learned that they would get no money for repairs and mitigation after Harvey.
“I was completely shocked. It just made no sense,” Jack Cagle, Precinct 4 Commissioner said.
“My initial reaction is clearly someone doesn’t know what they are doing,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey said.
Earlier this week, several leaders sent messages to GLO Commissioner George P. Bush who announced on Wednesday that he will recommend $750 million to Houston and Harris County. Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle says it’s not enough money but it’s a good start.
“It is just a beginning, and even with the $2.5 billion bonds that were passed, that is not enough to make this Bio city that is built on the Katy Prairie, which is a flat place to have adequate drainage so that we can all live as safely as possible is going to require long-term investments,” he said.
With hurricane season fast approaching and many Texans still recovering from the 2021 freeze, members of Congress are urging the GLO to ensure that Houston and Harris County receive an adequate allocation of funds.
“No one is asking for special treatment. No one is asking to cut the line. No one is asking for anything other than the fair share that we deserve as a city and as a county,” Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia said.
On Thursday, the Texas General Land Office posted Amendment 1 to the $212.74 million State Action Plan for 2019 Disasters for a federally required 30-day public comment period.
According to a release, $14,769,000 in additional funds, which was awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Federal Register notice 86 FR 569 on Jan. 6, will be allocated for programs administered by the GLO.
The amendment includes the following changes, among others:
· No new programs will be created, but existing programs will receive additional funding.
· Homeowner Assistance Program allocation amount increased to $98,910,000
· Homeowner Reimbursement Program allocation amount increased to $10,840,000
· Affordable Rental Program allocation amount increased to $31,550,000
· Infrastructure Competition allocation amount increased to $61,430,000
· Local, Regional, and State Planning allocation amount increased to $11,375,500