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Feds halt Harvey relief funds over GLO error

The continuing saga.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development on Friday halted the distribution of $1.95 billion in aid awarded to Texas after Hurricane Harvey because it said the state has failed to send the federal agency required paperwork detailing its plans to spend it.

The delay is the latest in a series of hold-ups; almost four years after Congress approved $4.3 billion in HUD aid for Texas, about half of it remains unallocated.

HUD said in a statement its formal action gives the Texas General Land Office 45 days to submit the missing document, which the agency said is an analysis explaining how the state’s proposed list of disaster mitigation projects helps the most vulnerable residents.

“We look forward to receiving and reviewing Texas’s submission of the additional information needed for approval,” the HUD statement said. “We are hopeful that Texas will take the steps needed to begin much-needed, forward-looking mitigation projects in the state.”

The decision prevents Texas from distributing $1.2 billion in flood mitigation grants to local governments it had selected through a funding competition, as well as $750 million to Harris County, which was awarded nothing from that contest.

HUD in 2020 signed off on the GLO’s plan for the funding competition, which selected 81 projects, and said it welcomed the subsequent proposal for Harris County. The agency on Friday, however, said moving forward with those plans depends on whether GLO provides the missing report.

[…]

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said she looked forward to GLO completing the paperwork. She said county staff are prepared to answer any questions from HUD about how its planned projects will help vulnerable residents. Hidalgo still is hoping for additional aid.

“This $750 million is a start, but more is needed since Harris County and the city of Houston took over 50 percent of the damage from Hurricane Harvey, and because millions of residents remain vulnerable to natural disasters,” Hidalgo said.

Mayor Sylvester Turner raised the same point about the unequal distribution of aid. He said he was pleased with HUD’s action Friday, and awaits the response from the Land Office.

We’ve been down this road before. The reason this is a problem for the GLO, and why they reacted so bitterly to HUD’s letter, is that they don’t have a good explanation for why they did the funding formula that they did. It was designed to screw the big Democratic cities and counties in favor of the rural Republican counties. That’s not the explanation HUD is looking for, so here we are. Tune in later in February to see how they try to wriggle out of it.

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2 Comments

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    This has nothing to do with the GLO designing the competition to screw the big Democratic cities. As the article states, HUD signed off on the GLO plan for the competition, and that was the plan to screw the big democratic cities. So HUD approved that plan. They can’t be reversing course now, unless one of the people in the Biden administration somehow did something illegal to reverse that approval.

    No, it just looks like there was a report that wasn’t done. Federal funding is a minefield of regulations, reports, and entitlements. It is mishandled, misused, and give to political patrons.

    The intention of HUD is to help the most vulnerable residents. They primarily live in the poor counties, that don’t have enough tax money for flood control. Harris County is full or rich White Privilege, which can afford to make the improvements, but the people in charge of the county waste money. For example, Ed Emmett, and his jury selection building that cost tens of millions of dollars and lasted just four years or so.

    This is why the government is an inefficient way to get help to the public. I think that someone once said, the scariest words are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

    For what it’s worth, I believe that Emmett should have to pay back every penny of the wasted money, or spend the rest of his life in prison.

  2. […] mean, based on past experience, why would we want to do it any other way? The GLO isn’t just not adding value […]