The U.S. Department of Urban Development (HUD) on Friday accepted a plan submitted by the state of Texas to rebuilt its coastal areas that, over a 52-day period last year, were impacted by Hurricanes Dolly, Gustav, and Ike.
Last September, Congress approved the appropriation of more than $6 billion in funding for long-term recovery and restoration of infrastructure, housing and economic revitalization in areas hit by natural disasters. HUD has awarded Texas $1.315 billion of the first $2.1 billion it is providing to 13 states and Puerto Rico. The second allocation of the remaining two thirds of that appropriation—which is being funded through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG)—is scheduled to be allocated in the first quarter of 2009.
Hurricane Ike, a tropical storm that was 900 miles wide, or equal in size to the state of West Virginia, wreaked the most havoc in Texas. More than 8,000 homes in that state were destroyed by the storm, according to a preliminary impact report, published by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) last December. That report stated that 27% of the wind-damaged homes, and 61% of those damaged by flooding, were uninsured. FEMA approved $20.1 million in housing assistance for 109,045 eligible applicants.
In its “Texas Rebounds” report, the state of Texas estimates that it incurred more than $29 billion in damages during last year’s storm season that were not reimbursed; of that total, $3.4 billion has been identified as related to housing assistance needs. The state’s forestry, agricultural, and fishery industries also lost $1.1 billion.
To receive HUD grant money, Texas has agreed to use 10.6% of its first allocation, or $139.7 million, for affordable rental housing programs, as required by federal statute. Nearly half of that—4.47% of the total—will be set aside for the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs’ Affordable Housing Stock Restoration Program. The rest will be allocated at the regional level among 11 of the state’s 24 Councils of Government.
Because of the extensive damage caused by last year’s storms, HUD agreed to waive its 70% overall benefit requirement for low- and moderate-income persons, and replace it with a 50% requirement to give those receiving the grants greater flexibility to carry out recovery efforts within the CDBG’s national guidelines.
HUD’s funding will also help pay for infrastructure restoration, property buyouts in flood zones, demolition of damaged property, rehabilitation of commercial and industrial buildings, and code enforcement.
John Caulfield is senior editor at BUILDER magazine.