Federal Emergency Management Agency awards Harris County with $51 million for home buyouts

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded Harris County Flood Control District with $51 million to purchase 294 homes that flooded during Hurricane Harvey, according to a June 14 press release.

HCFCD spokesperson Karen Hastings said the district is waiting to receive an official letter from the state regarding the allocation, which will require a local match from the county of about $17 million.

This is the second allocation of funding FEMA has awarded HCFCD for home buyouts since Hurricane Harvey. In early June, FEMA allocated $25.67 million in grant funding to purchase 169 homes, which required a $10.25 million match from the county.

In April, HCFCD submitted a grant application to the state and FEMA requesting $163.5 million—with the county matching $54.5 million— to buy out 1,000 homes. According to a press release, the state is still reviewing the remaining funds HCFCD requested in its application.

Since HCFCD began its buyout program in 1985, a little more than 3,000 properties have been purchased throughout the county, with the majority funded by FEMA grants, according to HCFCD documents. After a home is purchased and demolished, the county helps the homeowner relocate to a property that is not in a flood-prone area.

In order for homes to qualify for the buyouts, the property must meet certain requirements. For example, one requirement is the property must be located in a mapped floodplain or has flooded repeatedly by a bayou or creek overflowing its bank, according to a press release.

Funding for home buyouts in different parts of the county is included in the county’s list of potential projects that could be funded by a $2.5 billion bond referendum—if it is approved by voters on Aug. 25. The bond funding would be the source of the local match that is usually required by federal grants.

Residents who are interested in the buyout program can call HCFCD at 713-684-4020 or visit www.hcfcd.org/hurricane-harvey/home-buyout-program.

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Zac Ezzone
Zac Ezzone began his career as a journalist in northeast Ohio, where he freelanced for a statewide magazine and local newspaper. In April 2017, he moved from Ohio to Texas to join Community Impact Newspaper. He worked as a reporter for the Spring-Klein edition for more than a year before becoming the editor of the Lake Houston-Humble-Kingwood edition.
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