Houston City Council approves revisions to 2015 flood buyout processes

Nearly three years after Houston received federal funds for voluntary residential buyouts for those affected by the 2015 Memorial Day Flood, city officials refined the application process, reigniting discussions among council members about the pace of the city's disaster recovery.

Single-family home applications clarified

Prior to revisions approved by Houston City Council on Jan. 15, the buyout application for single family homeowners stated that the amount of money they were eligible to receive was based off of the value of the property prior to the disaster rather than after the disaster. In reality, Harris County Flood Control District, which facilitates the program, has always required reimbursement be based off a property’s post-disaster value.

Newly-elected At-Large Position 4 City Council Member Letitia Plummer said she was disappointed to discover this inaccurate wording had been on the books for years.

“We need to do a better job crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s because we’re misleading our community,” she said.


Mayor Sylvester Turner said the clarification in the wording does not negatively affect any of the homeowners already helped by the program because they were informed that their reimbursement was based on post-disaster values after they applied for the program.

“There is no substantive impact at all,” he said. “Just in the paperwork, we’re bringing everything to compliance with the county.”

Using post-disaster values streamlines the process, Assistant Housing and Community Development Director Derek Sellers said during a November Housing Committee meeting regarding the clarification. If a homeowner applies for aid after more than one disaster, using the pre-disaster value would require the county to subtract previous aid received by that homeowner from the pre-disaster value and complicate the process, he said.

For that reason, he said the flood-control district has always used the most recent post-disaster value to determine aid funding.

“The struggle that we have is that when you have storms that have happened in ‘15, ‘16, ‘17 and we just turned around with Imelda as well, the potential to get FEMA funding creates a duplication of benefits issue...you would have to prove how much you put into the home with previous funding.”

To expand eligibility, Council also approves new prioritization guidelines that expand the definition of seniors and families, two groups that are given highest priority.

The changes state that seniors are now defined as 62 years old and up rather than 65 years old and up and families are defined as households with children under 18 rather than under children under 5.

Multifamily buyouts get more time

Also among changes approved Jan. 15 was an additional year added to the voluntary buyout program for multifamily properties affected by the 2015 flood. As of 2020, 19 buyouts have been performed and two are pending for a total $3.2 million allocated out of the $10.6 million federally funded budget, according to Houston Housing and Community Development Department data.

The city also received $23 million for multifamily buyouts following 2016 flooding, however that funding has already been allocated, Housing and Community Development Department officials said.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


MOST RECENT

METRONext is the agency’s $3.5 billion bond approved by voters in November 2019, which aims to ease traffic congestion, add expansion to the METRO, and make accessibility and safety upgrades.
(Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
METRO Board approves $1.3 billion budget, discusses METRONext projects

The METRO board of directors met Sept. 21 to give an overview of the drafted budget as well as to receive public comments. It was unanimously approved at the Sept. 23 board meeting.

The Texas Secretary of State's office has launched an audit of 2020 election results in four of Texas’ largest counties: Harris, Dallas, Tarrant and Collin. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Texas Secretary of State's office announces audit of 2020 election results in Dallas, Collin, Tarrant and Harris counties

In a statement released Sept. 23, the office said it anticipates the state Legislature will fund the process.

Kyle City Council voted 6-1 and approved the new citywide trail master plan that will utilize 2020 bond election funds for trails that will help connect Austin to San Antonio. (Courtesy Pexels)
CI Nation roundup: Perfect Game coming to Cedar Park; Kyle City Council approves trail master plan to connect Austin to San Antonio and more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Sept. 24.

Big League Dreams will reopen in December with updated turf, seating, nets, fencing, graphics and other upgrades. (Courtesy city of League City)
Big League Dreams to reopen in League City; New Caney ISD officials address student possession of a gun, and more top stories from Greater Houston

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Greater Houston area.

Comcast will award $1 million to small businesses owned by people of color in Fort Bend and Harris counties (Courtesy Fotolia)
Comcast Rise Investment Fund to award small business grants in Harris, Fort Bend counties

Comcast will award $1 million to small businesses owned by people of color in Fort Bend and Harris counties.

Several parents of New Caney ISD students spoke at the district's Sept. 20 board meetings about recent allegations that a student brought a firearm to Porter High School's Sept. 18 homecoming dance. NCISD Superintendent Matt Calvert stressed that no gunshots were fired at the event, and that the district is investigating the allegations. (Wesley Gardner/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI Nation roundup: Round Rock ISD trustees considered for censuring; New Caney ISD addresses allegations of student with gun at campus event and more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Sept. 23.

The Texas Department of Transportation will close all northbound and southbound main lanes of I-69 Southwest Freeway at I-610 West Loop on Sept. 24-27 and from Oct. 1-4. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)
I-69 at Loop 610 to be closed Sept. 24-27, Oct. 1-4

North and south main lanes will close Sept. 24 at 9 p.m. until Sept. 27 at 5 a.m. and then from Oct. 1-4

Lush RX, a boutique luxury med spa founded by registered nurse, Krystal Roney-Smith, is both Black-owned and female-run. (Courtesy Emex Photos)
Boutique luxury med spa announces opening in Bellaire

Lush RX offers trending Polydioxanone Threading, and lasers to remove unwanted hair or tattoos.

A new 300-room hotel has opened in Texas Medical Center’s Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center campus. (Courtesy Michael Anthony)
Hilton opens new dual-branded hotel at Texas Medical Center

The dual-branded Hilton Garden Inn and Home2 Suites by Hilton offers a total of 300 rooms.

Houston resident Marissa Hanson spoke on keeping tax rates low during the Harris County Commissioners Court public hearing on Sept. 21. (Emily Lincke/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County Commissioners propose tax cuts at cost of Harris Health System funding

On average, Harris County homeowners may see lower tax rates in the next year, but it will come at the cost of $17 million in funding for the county’s hospital district, according to Harris County Administrator David Berry.

A new collaborative joint research building is in the works that will be housed on Texas Medical Center’s new life science campus. (Courtesy Elkus Manfredi Architects)
Texas Medical Center: Fall 2023 completion announced for research hub for life science campus expansion project

A new research building is underway that will be located in the heart of a future 37-acre TMC3 campus.

Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy’s annual MusicFest will return in 2021 for its eighth iteration. (Courtesy Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy)
Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy announces MusicFest return in 2021

Patrons can enjoy a free festival that will include a lineup of 57 musicians, a Haunted House Maze, Trunk or Treat and costume contests.