HOUSTON — The City of Houston received $1.3 billion from the federal government to help homeowners and renters with repairs. 

The program kicked off earlier this year.  The delayed start is because both FEMA and insurance companies needed time to receive applications and claims and then make a decision on whether to approve or deny help.

The city's Harvey Homeowner Assistance Program is a sort-of last ditch effort for people who have exhausted other options for financial help. And the process to get a piece of that $1.3 billion is challenging.

Listen to Antonio Zavala explain the application process:

"We know it’s confusing,"said Tom McCasland, who oversees the City of Houston's Housing Department. "We know it’s slow, but you’re going to get to that finish line if you hang with us."

There is a lot of oversight and accountability that comes with $1.3 billion.

The federal government is requiring the City of Houston to have ample documentation for every household approved. The City of Houston could pay fines if they don't. 

About $600 million is designated to homeowners; another $350 million for renters and multi-family communities. The rest of the money will cover smaller programs -- like community improvements -- after Harvey. 

The City of Houston expanded its team, added technology and rented office space for this program that will run for three full years. 

Fast facts about the City of Houston's Harvey Homeowner Assistance Program
City of Houston

If you want to be reimbursed for out-of-pocket repairs:

"How much you get reimbursed depends upon your income level. Everything from 100 percent (down) to 25 percent," said McCasland. 

You will not get reimbursed for repairs covered by FEMA or your insurance company or an organization.  

If you need help with reconstruction:

You have two options: You can go with a city-approved contractor or you can find your own. You're also still eligible for reimbursements if you paid for any work on your home out-of-pocket. 

So far, more than 17,000 Houstonians have started the process to enter the program. The City of Houston has invited 4,500 households to begin the application process, which happens in waves. Houston has submitted 95 applications to the General Land Office, the state agency that the federal funds are funneled through. And of those 95 applications, 22 have been approved, including Mr. Zavala's.

"Hang in there. Just bide your time. The first thing they told me is to be patient," said the 77-year old retired Houstonian.  "We go to church every Sunday. We pray for the other people, hoping their application goes through."

LINKS YOU'RE LOOKING FOR:

Click HERE to read up on the first things you need to know and do before the application process can begin 

Click HERE to see how the City of Houston prioritizes cases 

Click HERE to learn about the reimbursement program

Click HERE for the application checklist 

Call 832-393-0550 for more information OR visit www.Recovery.HoustonTX.gov 

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