The Texas General Land Office informed Harris County and city of Houston leaders neither entity had been awarded any Hurricane Harvey flood mitigation funds last month. Following requests from county leaders to reconsider Bush requested a direct allocation to Harris County for flood mitigation efforts from HUD less than a week later on May 26.
According to a June 14 letter from HUD officials, that request was denied. Officials said the law prevents HUD from providing a direct allocation of Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funding to the county.
Instead of directly allocating the $1 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief funding to Harris County, HUD sent the relief money to the Texas GLO to be made available in the form of competitive grants.
County officials said they believe the formula Texas GLO officials used to determine which grant applications would be awarded funding was discriminatory against large, urban areas like Harris County and the city of Houston. Bush, on the other hand, has put the blame on the federal government’s “red tape.”
“Money from the federal government is, as always, tied up with endless mounds of red tape and bureaucracy,” Bush said in a June 17 statement. “During Hurricane Harvey, Texans in Harris County undoubtedly suffered some of the costliest damage in the state. After considerable back and forth with the Biden Administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, the General Land Office will allocate $750 million in funding for mitigation efforts in Harris County and continue to work around the federal government’s ever-changing bureaucratic demands.”
The GLO will now draft an action plan to subaward $750 million for Harris County and add at least $500 million to the Regional Mitigation Program—$418 million of which would go to the regional council of governments that includes Harris County, officials said.
As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, the Harris County Flood Control District submitted $915 million in grant applications last October in hopes of receiving federal funds earmarked in 2018 for flood mitigation efforts following Hurricane Harvey in 2017. According to county officials, 40% of the $125 billion in damage caused by Hurricane Harvey took place within Harris County.