Housing for residents displaced by Hurricane Ike last year was almost non-existent. The slow response from federal and state agencies was criticized. Nine months after the storm hit, a significant step was made in helping to restore the region's economy and tax base. Dignitaries gathered at a southwest side apartment complex that is being refurbished and will be offered to Ike victims. Michael Gerber is executive director of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. He says Texas took a direct hit from Hurricane Ike.
"The recovery will continue for quite sometime, but a strong down payment is being made from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, in the amount of 87-million, 256-thousand, 565-dollars, to begin the important rehabilitation work at so many other properties for people of this area who are in desperate need of housing as part of that Ike recovery."
Houston state representative Sylvester Turner chaired a committee that looked into the state's response to Hurricane Ike.
"Not only are we helping to rebuild people's lives, we are rebuilding and strengthening neighborhoods as well. With the 87-million that's coming from Hurricane Ike, and the other projects and developments that will take place all over the city, I think we're looking at almost five thousand units that will be rehabbed in this city."
Dr Ed Pringle with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, says the funds will go a long way in helping Houston recover from Ike.
"These investments will generate thousands of jobs, modernize housing to make it more green and energy efficient, and help the families and communities hardest hit by the economic crisis."
Perhaps the most vocal critic of the federal government's response to Ike was Mayor Bill White. He says thousands of units will be restored using the city's Apartment to Standards Initiative. It's an aggressive apartment rehabilitation plan that provides more affordable housing. Part of the money will create new home ownership opportunities for working families.
"When you add to the housing stock of the community, that benefits everyone and I'll tell you why. When new houses near the workplaces are short, that drives up the prices of the houses that remain in the neighborhood. It's called the laws of supply and demand. And when we replace the amount of housing stock which was destroyed during Ike, we create a balance where affordable housing is available for all Houstonians, including those people who've been displaced after Ike."
Over 62-million dollars will be used to restore 38-hundred units from 13-multifamily rental properties damaged from Hurricane Ike.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF...Houston Public Radio News.