The Department of Housing and Urban Development is allocating $58 million in disaster aid to Texas as the state tries to recover from Hurricane Harvey.
“Clearly, the long-term needs in Texas far exceed this allocation so I anticipate this down payment will be targeted to address damaged housing to help Texans move forward with their own recovery,” HUD secretary Ben Carson said in a statement Friday.
These funds come from the Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery program that HUD administers.
Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands also suffered severe hurricane damage. But Texas was first and it has provided HUD with a recovery action plan that met the department’s requirements, according to HUD assistant secretary Neal Rackleff.
In Texas, “the greatest needs are related to the damage to that’s states housing stock. While these funds can support a variety of recovery activities, we believe and strongly encourage the state of Texas use these funds to help families with their housing needs,” Rackleff told reporters during a conference call.
In 13 counties in Texas, “a lot of housing needs aren’t being met through private insurance, FEMA grants, Small Business Administration loans or any other type of assistance,” he added.
In 2015, Texas mortgage originations totaled $121 billion, including $33 billion in Houston, according to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data.
However, it appears only 15% to 20% of Houston homeowners have flood insurance.
HUD officials are currently reviewing information related to Hurricanes Maria and Irma to provide disaster relief funding to those hard-hit areas.
HUD relies on data from the first responders at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration in allocating CDBG disaster recovery funds.
“We are literally pouring over all this information right now,” Rackleff said. But he indicated more information is still needed.
He noted that HUD has pretty good data on the state of Texas, a little bit of data on Florida and no virtually no data on Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.
“As more data becomes available from Irma and Maria we will be making other allocations to make certain we can get those funds to the places with the greatest needs,” he said. “And I think we all can say the needs are incredibly great.”
Congress appropriated $7.4 billion in CDBG disaster recovery funds in September.
“We are hoping to allocate that $7.4 billion as quickly as possible,” Neal Rackleff said.