GLO still screwing Houston on Harvey aid

This shit has got to stop.

Harris County and the city of Houston this week blasted the Texas General Land Office’s revised plan for distributing billions in federal Hurricane Harvey aid, saying that while it is an improvement over the $0 the state originally awarded the local governments, it still is woefully inadequate.

Mayor Sylvester Turner and Steve Costello, Houston’s chief recovery officer, said in a letter Wednesday that GLO’s proposal to send $750 million to Harris County and still nothing to Houston ignores what Congress wanted when lawmakers approved the aid package for Texas in 2018 — to help communities devastated by Harvey.

“It is unconscionable that the State would expect that this amount in any way represents an amount that is sufficient to address the extensive mitigation needs in Houston and elsewhere in Harris County,” the pair wrote the land office.

The city and county want at least $1 billion each, which they say is fair since that sum would be roughly half of the $4.3 billion in federal aid that GLO manages and Harris County has about half of all the residents in the 49 counties eligible for the funds.

They suggested the state could abandon its proposal to send more aid to regional government entities, including the Houston-Galveston Area Council, to free up more money for Houston and Harris County.


The dispute with GLO has enormous consequences: Harris County is counting on federal aid to help complete projects in its $2.5 billion flood bond program and Houston desperately wants to improve urban drainage so neighborhoods no longer flood before stormwater can flow into bayous.

The GLO in May announced the results of a $1 billion funding competition for the disaster mitigation aid, which completely shut out the city and county governments, despite the fact that Harris County sustained the most fatalities and property damage from the 2017 storm.

Houston Chronicle investigation found the scoring criteria GLO used discriminated against populous areas and the state disproportionately steered aid to inland counties with a lower risk of disasters than coastal ones most vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding. Land Commissioner George P. Bush claimed falsely that federal rules were to blame for the result.

After criticism from Houston-area Democrats and Republicans alike, the GLO said it would revise its plan for spending more than $1 billion in additional federal aid it has yet to distribute. Instead of holding a second scoring competition as originally planned, GLO intends to award $750 million directly to Harris County, which it can share with Houston and other cities at its discretion.

An additional $667 million would be divided amount regional government entities, including the Houston-Galveston Area Council. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development must approve the revised plan.

In a letter of its own to GLO on Wednesday, Harris County walked a fine line between thanking the state for offering the $750 million and making a case for why it remains insufficient.

Given its own need to fund flood bond projects, the county is disinclined to share its allocation with cities within its boundaries. Instead, County Administrator Dave Berry said county leaders support Houston’s request for a $1 billion allocation.

“The majority of the amount the State of Texas (federal) allocation — by far — was due to Hurricane Harvey and the documented damage suffered in Harris County and the city of Houston,” Berry wrote. “Congress clearly intended for this money to go to communities most impacted and distressed by Harvey.”

See here for my previous update, and Zach Despart’s Twitter thread for color commentary. This is the same tired bullshit from the GLO, with more insults. We’re going to need the feds to step in and apply the hammer, and then we’re seriously going to need to vote a lot of people out of office. There’s no other way forward at this point.

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5 Responses to GLO still screwing Houston on Harvey aid

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    The crying has got to stop. The city and county governments need to stop crying and blaming others for their incompetence. They could have reached out to me for help with federal program applications. Instead, they listened to Abbott and Costello, and ended up with a clown show and no funding.

    I’ve been telling you that this bunch is incompetent, but you think they are the sexiest, smartest, and greatest ever. Look at what happened with Acevedo going to Miami. They can see through the veneer of a sneer do well. YOU thought that Acevedo was a brilliant reformer, because his department murdered White people and the killer got to retire on pension at taxpayer expense.

    As for the GLO funding, we have no indication that the state request for $750 million was ever awarded. The county and the city are poor guardians of public money. I have reported to the OIG through about how the county and Hildalgo gave the contract to Elevate, and use federal money as a slush fund to buddies. The city allows developers to run wild, causing flooding and street damage, yet they want federal funds to “fix” the city. It’s crazy. They shouldn’t get it, until they get competent people to manage the funding.

  2. Manny says:

    Jason, are you suggesting that you are competent?

  3. C.L. says:

    I don’t think that’s what the good Doctor was suggesting, but it’s certainly a distinct possibility.

  4. Jason Hochman says:

    Blah blah blah. I am here to tell you that I know how federal funding works. I am telling you that if I am elected, I am going to get the city the federal funding. I am telling you that the people running the city are self serving incompetent and clueless. Blah Blah Blah.

  5. Manny says:

    Looking forward to seeing your name in 2023, Jason.

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