Politics

Houston City Council Approves $425 Million FEMA Housing Aid Program

Brian McCasland, the city’s director of housing and community development, says home repair work should begin in mid-January

Four-hundred twenty-five million dollars is on its way to Houston for housing recovery. The money from FEMA will establish a temporary housing program for Hurricane Harvey victims. Houston City Council formally voted to accept the disaster relief funds under contract with the Texas General Land Office.

Much of the funding will go to help homeowners without insurance to pay for repairs. Tom McCasland, the city’s director of housing and community development, told the council his office was only waiting on their vote to get to work.

“We plan to have a contract for you for some of the people who will be helping administer these funds next week,” said McCasland. “Assuming those two items go on schedule, I and my staff will be working over the holidays with the goal of having people in homes swinging hammers sometime in the second week of January.”

Several council members expressed concerns not enough of the funds would go to help renters. McCasland effectively said those concerns are justified.

“Right now, the numbers of approved families that are likely to come to us are about 80 percent homeowners, 20 percent renters,” he said. “That does not accurately reflect the need in our community. In fact, the need is probably the exact opposite.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner said that while the funds are welcome, they are nowhere near adequate to Houston’s needs. The city is seeking another $10 billion in block grants from HUD.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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