Press Releases

Reps. Fletcher and Olson Lead Abbott, Cornyn, Cruz, and Houston Delegation in Letter Asking HUD for Disaster Recovery Funds

Houston, TX, February 4, 2019
 

(HOUSTON, TX) – Today, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) and Congressman Pete Olson (TX-22) led Governor Greg Abbott, Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and the Houston delegation in a letter urging acting Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Russell Vought to approve the rules at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program in Texas. Doing so would allow the state of Texas to begin using these funds for hurricane recovery. It has been a year since these funds were allocated by the 115th Congress.

“In August of 2017, Hurricane Harvey paralyzed our state, dumping nearly 60 inches of rain, claiming 68 lives and causing an estimated $125 billion worth of damage. Hurricane Harvey was the most economically destructive hurricane in Texas history and the second-most expensive hurricane in American history. Thousands of Texans are still struggling to put their lives back together and rebuild. Our state’s ability to move forward on projects that will mitigate against future disasters, and the need for future federal disaster assistance, is stalled,” they wrote. “In February of 2018, Congress appropriated $4.383 billion to Texas through CDBG-DR funds explicitly to rebuild and mitigate against future storms. Almost one year later, Texas cannot begin to utilize this important funding because HUD has not published the rules governing their use in the Federal Register.”

“When Harvey hit, our community showed up to help with the recovery, and we worked together in an inspiring way. And the American people showed up to help us through Congress, directing more than $4 billion through these CDBG-DR grant funds alone. Now, we need the money to show up,” Rep. Lizzie Fletcher said. “There is much work still to do, and we need these funds to do it.”

“When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas over a year ago, families were uprooted, homes were destroyed and innocent lives were lost,” Rep. Pete Olson said. “Our communities are being restored, but our work isn’t finished. We worked hard to secure the $4 billion in CDBG-DR grants to continue making our communities whole. I urge HUD and OMB to act quickly so we can finish the Harvey recovery process.”

The letter was also signed by Representatives Kevin Brady (TX-08), Al Green (TX-09), Randy Weber (TX-14), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Michael McCaul (TX-10), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Brian Babin (TX-36), Michael Cloud (TX-27), and Dan Crenshaw (TX-02).

The signed letter is here and full text is below.

 

February 4, 2019

 

Acting Director Russell Vought
The Office of Management and Budget
725 12th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Acting Director Vought:

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have been among the many federal agencies who have helped our state recover from the effects of Hurricane Harvey. We are grateful for your support, especially the approval of the Texas General Land Office’s (GLO) State Action Plan last June for vital housing and infrastructure funds. Moreover, we are grateful for HUD and OMB’s efforts to ensure that Texas was able to continue to draw down these important federal funds during the partial government shutdown. However, now that the shutdown has ended, we write to urge expeditious approval of the rules at HUD that will define mitigation projects for the Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program in Texas.

In August of 2017, Hurricane Harvey paralyzed our state, dumping nearly 60 inches of rain, claiming 68 lives and causing an estimated $125 billion worth of damage. Hurricane Harvey was the most economically destructive hurricane in Texas history and the second-most expensive hurricane in American history. Thousands of Texans are still struggling to put their lives back together and rebuild. Our state’s ability to move forward on projects that will mitigate against future disasters, and the need for future federal disaster assistance, is stalled. In February of 2018 in response to recent natural disasters, Congress appropriated $28 billion in CDBG-DR funds explicitly to rebuild and mitigate against future storms. Of that funding, HUD allocated $4.383 billion to Texas. Almost one year later, however, Texas cannot begin to utilize this important funding because HUD has not published the rules governing their use in the Federal Register.

As the lead state agency for administering CDBG-DR funds, the GLO has worked hand-in-hand with HUD to define the meaning of mitigation and to identify projects that would best help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Despite the collaboration between the GLO and HUD, the rules have not yet been published in the Federal Register. As a result, the GLO has been significantly delayed in drafting a State Action Plan for the funds, the critical next step at the state level before the grants can begin to flow. Texans cannot afford to wait any longer. We urge you to expedite publication of these rules. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

/s/

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