The Homeowner Disaster Recovery Program is intended for homeowners in any city in Harris County — except Houston, which is covered under a different plan.
The first round of funding amounts to $43 million, which officials hope will be enough to help about 600 homeowners who haven’t been able to fix Ike-related damage.
Daphne Lemelle is the Community Development Director for the Harris County Community Services Department, which is administering the program. She explains why the money is just now becoming available — more than a year after Hurricane Ike.
“The money is coming from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and it’s flowing through the state and down to the local jurisdictions. We have been working as quickly as possible to facilitate that. And finally in August, we got our agreement with the state. That’s what was holding up the program. But we’ve been working toward this date as quickly as possible.”
The grants are limited to owner-occupants of single family homes or duplexes, and each member of the household has to prove they are either U.S. citizens or legal residents. Lemelle says first priority will be given to homes that suffered more than $28,500 in damage.
“In addition to that, we do have a requirement that 50-percent of the funding toward low-and-moderate income households. So if an applicant is low-and-moderate income, and sustains severe damage to their home, those applications will be reviewed first and processed for funding first.”
Lemelle adds that households with higher incomes, but without enough insurance to finish hurricane repairs, are also welcome to apply for the grants. They don’t have to be repaid, so long as the owner stays in the home for at least three years after receiving the money.
David Pitman. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.