As part of the third supplemental appropriations bill for disaster relief passed in February 2018, Congress included $12 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief funds (CDBG-DR) to be reserved for use in mitigating future disasters. Seven states were eligible to receive the funding. In April, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which administers the funds, announced more than $5 billion of those funds would go to Texas.
Mitigation is a critical part of recovery. We can repair housing and provide for economic recovery, but without mitigation that is just funding future failure. The City of Houston has identified numerous mitigation projects that will have real results in saving lives and protecting property when the next storm comes. That next storm may be right around the corner, so we need to get to work on these mitigation projects now.
The CDBG-DR mitigation funds should be directly allocated to the City of Houston. The City of Houston possesses the capability to administer the funds. A direct allocation would speed the process by reducing the burden on the State of Texas to determine how to distribute the funds. Houston could quickly begin utilizing these dollars on projects to mitigate floods.
There is recent precedent for how HUD can distribute the funds in this manner. For the first supplemental appropriations bill, Texas was slated to received $5 billion in traditional CDGB-DR funds for housing and economic recovery. Using a formula utilizing unmet needs, HUD distributed $1.2 billion to the City, $1.2 billion to Harris County and $2.5 billion to the State of Texas. HUD could use the same formula, meaning the City would receive about the same amount, $1.2 billion.