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Court blocks Texas General Land Office from seizing control of Houston's Harvey Recovery Funds

The injunction will remain in place until final resolution of the dispute is decided at trial.

HOUSTON — The city of Houston won a temporary injunction to stop the Texas General Land Office from removing over $1.2 billion in Hurricane Harvey disaster relief from the city.

Mayor Sylvester Turner made the announcement Tuesday afternoon. The state said they will appeal 353rd District Court Judge Tim Sulak’s ruling.

The injunction will remain in place until final resolution of the dispute is decided at trial.

“We are pleased that the judge acted quickly to protect Houstonians,” the mayor said. “The ruling today stops the GLO from taking actions that would have harmed our city's most vulnerable populations affected by Harvey, including low income, disabled individuals and people of color, who are protected by the Fair Housing Act through the City’s programs.”

The state released the following statement in regards to the ruling:

"The decision by the city of Houston to prioritize litigation versus rebuilding housing for those who have been waiting nearly three years is reprehensible," Brittany Eck, communications director for Disaster Recovery, said. "City officials and their attorneys continue to hinder disaster recovery for the most vulnerable Houston residents three years after Hurricane Harvey. The GLO has a proven track record of success in rebuilding homes in 48 counties, yet rather than put people back in their homes, the city of Houston has chosen to pay attorneys to keep Houstonians in the city's own failed housing program."

The lawsuit arose in connection with funding that was specifically directed to the city of Houston by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department. The city and GLO entered into a contract providing that the city would administer the relief funds to its residents.

City officials said the GLO advised that it planned to take over the funds and eliminate city programs that are helping city residents. The GLO proposed to replace only some of the city’s programs with its own.

Earlier this month, the city filed a lawsuit in Travis County asking the court to stop the GLO from taking actions with HUD to give GLO control over the funds. The city said they presented evidence that GLO’s actions would have resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in housing projects slated to be constructed by the city.

City officials said the GLO’s new plan for the funds violated the law by disregarding the city’s community-informed and HUD-approved needs-based prioritization of seniors, disabled individuals, and families with children.

Instead, the GLO’s program would have spent the money on a first-come, first-serve basis that would risk leaving the neediest people behind once the GLO spent the money, according to city officials.

"I am grateful the judge saw through the politics of GLO's actions and focused on the people of Houston, because they are the true winners in today's decision," Turner said.

The court’s granting of the temporary injunction prevents GLO from taking further actions to try to take away the city’s funding while the case proceeds to resolution at trial.

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