Harris County

Federal Funds Worth $900 Million For Harvey Recovery Will Pay For Home Repairs, Buyouts

The funds are the first of two tranches the county will receive from HUD.

This Aug. 29, 2017 file photo shows a flooded subdivision near Cypress Creek in north Harris County during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

The Harris County Commissioners Court accepted Tuesday more than $909 million in federal funds to support local rebuilding efforts following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. The funds, which represent the first of two tranches coming to Harris County by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will be disbursed over the coming months to residents with qualified claims.

The majority of the funds will go toward housing related projects, starting with home repair, reconstruction, buyout and reimbursements for homeowners on repairs made at their own expense. Additionally, funds will go toward repair and new construction of rental property, and toward building affordable housing options in the county.

"These funds are an opportunity for residents rebuilding after Harvey. Our case workers are prepared to help folks through the process and to direct them to other possible resources if they do not qualify," said County Judge Lina Hidalgo. "I encourage folks to begin applying today."

Applications are already being accepted at the Harris County Project Recovery Website at www.harrisrecovery.org. For questions call 832-927-4961 or email RebuildHarris@csd.hctx.net

The Commissioners Court also discussed the county budget, bail reform, flood control measures, and raises for county workers and elected officials at Tuesday's meeting.

Hidalgo proposed revising the county's budgeting process in order to make it more open, equitable, and performance-based. She is also is convening stakeholders this Wednesday to ensure the county is undergoing a coordinated, smart implementation of bail reform. "Our criminal justice system needs to be safe, fair, and fiscally responsible. Bail reform is a first step in that direction, and we need to make sure we're implementing reform in the best way possible," she said.

The court heard from representatives of the Harris County Flood Control District about ongoing efforts to update its floodplain map, improve monitoring, repair bayous, and remove sediment from tributaries in Harris County and neighboring jurisdictions.

Hidalgo noted that half the homes that flooded during Harvey weren't inside the floodplain and added the flood plains were not accurately mapped. "The last floodplain revision was twelve years ago and, since then, we've had three 500-year storms," the Judge said, "we're beginning work toward a new floodplain map based on new rainfall data that will let people know whether they're in the floodplain and ensure infrastructure projects are built to appropriate standards."

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