Houston city leaders call on federal agencies to take over Harvey’s relief funds

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On Saturday, local leaders called on federal agencies to take over the distribution of Hurricane Harvey relief funds after the Texas General Land Office denied aid to the city of Houston for the second time.

Four and a half years after Hurricane Harvey, Sandra Edwards’ Fifth Ward home remains in disrepair.

“No walls!” she said as she walked around her living room. “When it rains, it still rains here. You can see I tried to tape the dust through the cracks. It’s unlivable and unbearable… Who wants to stay in a house that’s taped?”

Fox 26 registered with Edwards in January. At that time, she was awaiting repair approval from the GLO office. She says she recently had to send documents showing that she spent money on repairs and is waiting to receive information on additional funds.

“They see we can’t afford it, and we don’t get the funds we need,” she says.

So far, of the $4.3 billion in post-Hurricane Harvey federal aid, the city is receiving none to help its owners.

“Zero, zero in Houston,” Congressman Al Green said at a press conference at his office Saturday morning.

“If the money is being spent on this plan with a fictional formula, then HUD should step in,” he says.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development on Friday accepted a Texas General Land Office plan to give Harris County $750 million, after GLO refused to fund both the city and the county in 2021.

“We salute the 750 million, but the city of Houston has not received a fair share for its residents,” said Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia.

According to the mayor’s office, Houston and Harris County suffered half of all Harvey’s damage. The bureau recommended that the two receive at least $1 billion each in federal aid.

Garcia, Green and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee say the Justice Department should plan to get involved.

“HUD twice cited GLO as failing to discriminate against minorities,” Lee said.

In March, HUD reported discrimination in GLO’s distribution of Harvey funds, saying it “significantly disadvantages black and Hispanic residents.”

A representative for GLO sent Fox 26 a statement Saturday saying minorities make up more than two-thirds of communities receiving funding for the Harvey Project and that the office is drafting a response to allegations of discrimination.

Residents like Edwards, who are still living in the disaster, believe that is exactly what is preventing their rescue from storm damage.

“I saw the death behind it all, and it’s not fair to us. Not fair at all,” Edwards says.

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