Hurricane Harvey housing recovery program receives green light from Houston City Council

Houston City Council approved Hurricane Harvey housing recovery programs April 10.

Houston City Council approved Hurricane Harvey housing recovery programs April 10.

Over a year and half after Hurricane Harvey, residents can now receive reimbursement for completed repairs or financial assistance for unfinished or needed repairs.

While surveys for homeowners interested in applying for financial assistance have already been made available to the public, Houston City Council approved an ordinance April 10 that allows the city to officially facilitate the contracts necessary to reimburse or assist homeowners using federal dollars.

In January, The Texas General Land Office granted the city of Houston $1.17 billion out of a total $5 billion received by the state from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for housing-related recovery initiatives. Since then, the city has been using state and federal frameworks to design its recovery programs.

"This is an issue that is going to impact the community well after each and every one of us are all gone from here,” Council Member Amanda Edwards said.

After filling out the city’s housing needs survey, eligible homeowners can apply for five different financial assistance options. Since the surveys became available, over 11,000 responses have been received, according to city documents. Residents with low income are eligible for larger reimbursements and more financial assistance; however, residents of all income levels are still eligible for assistance including up to $20,000 in reimbursements.

The provisions


Much of the debate among City Council members April 10 about how to implement these programs surrounded a provision that required homeowners who received more than $20,000 in financial assistance to get written permission from the city’s housing director prior to vacating the home for more than 90 days.

Edwards proposed an amendment that struck that provision from the program requirements and said it was insulting to homeowners, many of whom spoke during City Council’s public comment session April 9.

“I don't want our residents feeling any more nervous than they already feel,” Edwards said. “We've got folks that have worked their lives for their homeownership, and they have pride in their homeownership. The notion that there are triggers and deadlines is a nerve-wracking experience, and I think our residents have just been through enough.”

Edwards' amendment was not approved by City Council; however an amendment from Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office was approved. It removed the provision that required residents to receive written permission to leave for more than 90 days but kept a provision that allows the city to issue a notice of default should city officials become aware that a house has been vacant for 90 days.

Turner said that the amendment helps ensure that homeowners that received assistance do not flip or rent out their properties and also keeps the city in compliance with standards in place for spending of federal dollars.

"We are putting ourselves at risk down the road when our dollars are being audited if we do not put in place proper and reasonable checks and balances," Turner said.
SHARE THIS STORY
By Emma Whalen

Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered health care and public education in Austin.


MOST RECENT

Early voting is underway in Harris County for the March 2020 primary elections. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
Voter turnout starts strong in Harris County primary elections

The early voting period runs through Feb. 28.

Houston's first chief transportation officer will help the city coordinate its urban planning efforts with other agencies such as the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Texas Department of Transportation. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Shifting focus from car culture, Houston hires first chief transportation planner

Houston's first chief transportation officer will help the city shift its focus from car-centric urban planning.

Critical care tower
Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center opens new critical care tower

A new critical care tower offering Level 1 trauma support has recently opened at the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.

Planned complex rendering
Texas A&M system to invest $546 million in Texas Medical Center development plan

The Texas A&M University System will be building a half-billion dollar complex in the Texas Medical Center over the next three years.

Nob Hill
Meyerland apartment community Nob Hill is for sale

The property had a taxable value of over $60 million in 2019.

Cheetos Cheese Pickles from Biggy's (Courtesy Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo)
Cheetos cheese pickles, mac and cheese eggrolls, deep-fried cheesecake: 93 food spots to try during the 2020 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

From tried and true to something new, the food options at this year's Rodeo include classic staples and crazy concoctions.

El Topo food
El Topo brings sophisticated Texas cooking to West U

El Topo is building on its cuisine made popular with its farmers' market food truck.

A&O Lamp Company
Longtime family-run A&O Lamp Company closes West U shop

The store auctioned off over 3,000 items on Jan. 11.

Kim Son Cafe
New Kim Son Cafe now open at Rice Village

Kim Son Cafe is now bringing its traditional Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine to the Rice Village, at 2512 Rice Blvd.

The Houston ISD school calendar for 2020-21 includes the districtwide holiday and day of community service in honor of César Chávez and Dolores Huerta on March 29. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Houston ISD releases 2020-21 calendar: See what days off students will have next year

The school year begins on Aug. 24 and ends the following May 27, before Memorial Day.

Former Chevron building
Work on new zoning district for former Chevron property inches forward

The City of Bellaire is working toward creating a new zoning district at the former Chevron campus, at 4800 and 4900 Fournace Place.

Lanny Bose, Ann Johnson and Ruby Powers
Texas House District 134 Democratic Primary: Meet the candidates on the ballot in 2020

The winner of the primary will face incumbent Rep. Sarah Davis in November.

Back to top