The Texas General Land Office accepting input to direct $5.024 Billion in Federal disaster recovery funds
(Houston, TX) - State Representative Jim Murphy has submitted his comments to Commissioner George P. Bush of the Texas General Land Office relating to the State of Texas Plan for Harvey Disaster Recovery. The plan details the distribution and eligible uses of the $5.024 billion in federal Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) to assist Texas communities with long-term recovery following Hurricane Harvey.
Representative Murphy's comments include: suggestions for the allocation of funds for Buffalo Bayou flood mitigation efforts; direction of proportionate funds toward non-LMI housing repairs; and a transparent, easily accessible, and expedient process for Maximum Assistance Waiver applicants.
"The community of West Houston is resilient and has worked diligently to recover from the damage wrought by Hurricane Harvey, but the process is far from over. I have put my office to task identifying areas of the State Action Plan that we would like considered when evaluating the distribution and use of the federal dollars available. I hope my suggestions will supplement the comments from the constituents in my district to create a comprehensive, effective action plan." said Murphy.
Representative Murphy's entire comments are available for viewing on the Texas House of Representatives website, his social media websites, and is available by request from his office.
State Representative Jim Murphy represents District 133, West Houston. First elected in 2006, Murphy serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Special Purpose Districts and is a member of the Ways & Means Committee. Murphy also serves as Floor Leader for the House Caucus.
April 23, 2018
The Honorable George P. Bush
Texas Land Commissioner
Texas General Land Office
P.O. Box 12873
Austin, TX 78711-2873
Dear Commissioner Bush,
As you saw during your visit to west Houston in February, torrential rains from Hurricane Harvey coupled with the release of water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs caused severe flooding and catastrophic damage throughout House District 133. Our community is resilient and has worked diligently to recover from the damage but the process is far from over. Please consider the following suggestions when evaluating Houston's local action plan for use of allocated CDBG-DR money:
• Allocation of Funds for Buffalo Bayou Flood Mitigation Efforts
Much of the damage incurred by residents of HD-133 was caused by overflow of water from the Buffalo Bayou. Investment of resources into prevention and mitigation of future flooding will not only preserve homes and property value but, as noted in the State Action Plan, will reduce future costs of recovery. Specific considerations should be given to dredging the bayou, construction of new retention basins, and expansion of existing culverts with added debris control measures as necessary.
• Direction of Funds Towards Non-LMI Housing
With 70% of total funds allocated to the City of Houston obligated for LMI housing, the remaining balance of funds for home repairs is limited. As noted in Table 10 of the State Action Plan, 41% of the unmet need population is non-LMI. Considered together, this means the single largest group of individuals with unmet needs has access to a disproportionately small amount of funds. Failure to direct an adequate amount of unobligated funds to non-LMI populations will effectively exclude recovery in areas that make up the greatest amount of property damage by value. Given that Hurricane Harvey did not discriminate in its effect on families, significant care should be given so that all homeowners are able to access needed funds in order to continue the recovery process.
• Clarification of the Maximum Assistance Waiver Criteria and Process
According to the State Action Plan, sub-recipients of CDBG-DR dollars will be permitted to set the maximum amount of assistance available to each beneficiary at an amount equal to or lower than the GLO housing assistance maximum. Although a lower cap may provide for funds to be shared across a greater amount of homes, a single criteria of cost-effectiveness may be inadequate when determining whether a maximum assistance waiver should be granted. Any waiver criteria should be clearly defined and understandable to the applicant and the waiver process should be transparent, easily accessible, and processed expediently so that homeowners can make alternate arrangements to supplement individual assistance funds as necessary.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments and for your service to the people of Texas. As always, please let me know if I or my office can be of any assistance.
9525 Katy Freeway