Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) funds are a critical component of the federal government’s response to a hurricane, and the response to Hurricane Harvey is no exception. CDBG-DR funds are used in rebuilding housing, including single family and multi-family housing, and for economic recovery.
Governor Abbott and the Rebuild Texas Commission have requested $15.33 billion in CDBG-DR funds to support Texas’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey. The Governor’s request included $9 billion to repair 85,000 homes in the City of Houston. The City has since calculated that approximately 150,000 residential buildings were damaged by the hurricane, and more than twice as many households (311,000) were affected.
To date, the State has only been allocated $5.024 billion of that amount by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, resulting in an approximate unmet need of $10 billion.
The White House has proposed allocating $12 billion in CDGB-DR funds for resiliency measures, a significantly different use than the traditional use of these funds.
The City of Houston requests that Congress appropriate an additional $10 billion for Texas in CDBG-DR funds, and that those funds be designated for housing and economic recovery, the traditional uses of these funds.
Resiliency is crucially important, and while the administration’s proposal to direct $12 billion in CDBG funding toward resiliency measures is well-intentioned, this untested approach is a radical departure from the traditional CDBG-DR program and leaves nothing to assist homeowners, renters, or small business owners who depend upon CDBG funding to address housing and economic recovery needs unmet by private insurance and other federal programs. Resiliency is important, but it should not supplant housing and economic recovery.
Congress should address resiliency in the 3rd Supplemental by funding Corps of Engineers flood control projects instead, not by depriving state and local governments of the flexible CDBG-DR tool and dictating the use of those funds.
Appropriation of at least $10 billion in CDBG-DR funding including similar language to Public Law 115-56 related to: