HOUSTON – May 21, 2021 – Today, the Texas General Land Office (GLO) announced the recipients of Community Development Block Grant for Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds through the Hurricane Harvey State Mitigation Competition. The Harris County Flood Control District was not included in the list of recipients, although Houston & Harris County account for more than 50 percent of the estimated 300,000 structures flooded during Hurricane Harvey – more than any other region in Texas. If awarded, the funds would have gone to further projects in some of the area’s hardest hit watersheds.
“We are disappointed by today’s announcement, particularly since Harris County saw some of the worst flooding impacts from Hurricane Harvey,” said Russ Poppe, executive director of the Flood Control District. “These funds are dedicated to increasing our regional drainage capacity which will help mitigate damages from bayou and riverine flooding which meets the intent of the CDBG-MIT program. We waited for more than three years to get this news, and while we continue to make progress on these important projects, we will now have to double up on our pursuit of partner dollars to fund flood mitigation projects across Harris County.”
The CDBG-MIT scoring criteria made it difficult for highly urbanized areas to score well in several metrics in the GLO criteria, which determines the distribution of these funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Without mitigation funds, the very same homes rebuilt using HUD dollars following Hurricane Harvey are left vulnerable to future flooding events.
There is another $1 billion available for CDBG-MIT projects that the GLO plans to take applications for later this year. The Flood Control District and Harris County will advocate to both the GLO and HUD for changes in the current selection criteria to assure a more equitable distribution of funds.
The Flood Control District and Harris County submitted $900 million in applications, which was the maximum allowable amount under the competition’s rules. However, none were approved in today’s announcement. Partner funds are a key component of the Flood Control District’s 2018 Bond Program, which represented a $2.5 billion down payment on the future of resiliency in Harris County. All bond-funded projects continue to move forward on schedule with no delays due to funding. The Flood Control District is working with the Harris County Budget Management Office to identify backstop funding for every project if and when it is needed to ensure all projects continue regardless of partner funds.