More dollars are coming to Houston to help Harvey survivors still struggling to rebuild, or in some cases, remediate their homes.
On Wednesday, Houston City Council unanimously approved a deal to receive more than $424 million in federal funds from the Texas General Land Office.
Some Harvey victims and activists had urged the mayor and council members to OK the ordinance during an outside rally and face-to-face testimony at City Hall on Tuesday.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said Wednesday most of the dollars will cover repairs for homes with between $17,000 to $60,000 in damage, while some of the money will help renters pay for a temporary place to stay.
Turner said the $424 million on its way to Houston is the only money currently available from the GLO, adding the state agency won’t get another $5 billion until at least March.
Turner said he hopes Houston will get at least half of that amount and expressed frustration with the amount of federal funding and the speed at which it’s being given out.
“No, I’m not satisfied,” said Turner after the vote. “The amount of dollars that have been awarded by the feds, Office of Management and Budget on the federal level, the $44 billion, the last trunch, that’s going to be divided between Florida, California, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, and the state of Texas. That is woefully inadequate.”
Tom McCasland, the city’s housing director, told the mayor and council members FEMA had already pre-selected who’s getting help, with about 80 percent of the money going to homeowners and 20 percent to renters.
“That does not accurately reflect the need in our community,” said McCasland, while answering questions from council members. “In fact, the need is probably the exact opposite.”
McCasland told the council if everything goes according to plan, repair work funded by the GLO money should start by the second week in January.