Houston-Galveston Area Council Exective Director Jack Steele today updated the H-GAC Board of Directors on second round Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery funding, in light of concerns by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that the state’s initial plan did not allocate adequate housing funds to meet unmet needs in Harris, Galveston and Orange counties. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
“These revisions are also being considered in light of discussions between the state and housing advocacy groups that have filed two complaints against the state with HUD,” Steele said, referring to challenges based on a “weather model” of funds distribution which favors rural counties.
“The assistant secretary of HUD has indicated that HUD will not entertain a proposal from the state that does not significantly increase funds, specifically housing funds, to the most impacted areas, namely Galveston and Galveston County, Harris County and the City of Houston, and Orange County and the City of Orange,” Steele said, noting that HUD’s indication raises issues for other areas. “What that means of course, because we have a fixed sum of money, is that the only way funding to those jurisdictions can be increased is if funding to other jurisdictions, that we would argue were over allocated, is decreased.”
H-GAC Chair Kerry Neves gave his report on recent meetings on these issues.
“You have been well represented at these hearings,” Neves said. “Commissioner Garcia, Mayor Thomas, who is not here, and I all spoke at the last one. I tried to be very diplomatic but the ladies were very forthright and said, ‘Your weather model ain’t working, you are not getting any money out to these people, HUD’s not going to approve it, change your tone!”
Steele said that talks are continuing and the H-GAC Ike Committee, chaired by Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas will probably make a new action recommendation for board consideration in the near future.
Neves announced his 2010 H-GAC Committee appointments. Manvel Mayor Deloris Martin is chair of the Finance and Budget Committee, Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia is chair of the Projects Review Committee, Austin County Judge Carolyn C. Bilski is chair of the Water Resources Committee, Colorado County Judge Al Jamison is chair of the Election Committee, Pearland Mayor Tom Reid is chair of the Planning Committee, Fort Bend County Commissioner Andy Meyers is chair of the Health Care Policy Committee, Sugar Land Council Member Thomas Abraham is chair of the Legislative Committee and Houston City Council Member Anne Clutterbuck is chair of the Audit Committee.
The board approved resolutions honoring Lake Jackson Mayor Bob Sipple and Houston City Council Member James Rodriguez for their service to the H-GAC.
All other agenda items were approved. All votes were unanimous. Galveston County Commissioner Ken Clark, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, Wharton County Commissioner Chris King, Deer Park Council Member Thane Harrison, Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas, Huntsville Mayor James Turner, La Porte Council Member Chuck Engleken, Jr. and League City Mayor Toni Randall were absent.