Flood-prone property owners complain of low offers in Harris County buyback program

Nearly five years after Hurricane Harvey, some Aldine residents, in north Harris County, are facing a deadline to sell their flood-damaged properties.

After the storm, the county identified eight areas, 400 owners and 400 renters, in flood-prone neighborhoods, who qualified for part of a $200 million buyout and relocation program. Some, though, are demanding a better deal from county commissioners.

In Aldine, near the intersection of Norments and Mark Streets, many of the lots are empty and owned by the county. Some residents who remain are turning to Harris County Commissioners, complaining they're being low-balled and pressured to accept far less than what their property's worth.

"We are here to demand that they get the value, and they also help them in the process of relocating in areas that have houses that are livable," says Damaris Gonzalez, of the Texas Organizing Project.

While most are gone from the neighborhood, those who remain say they can't imagine signing-off on the deal that's been offered. In some cases, owners have been offered just $7,000 to walk away from a property that's owned free and clear.

"We did not ask for this," says resident Irma Pineda. "We never said, ‘Hey, move us out of here. Come and give us whatever thing you want to give us.’ They basically went in our home, our community, and took our peace away."


The clock is ticking, to get answers. While residents were notified two years ago of a June 28 deadline to vacate, many complain they've found little response when they ask for help or time to decide what to do.

Sylvia Oliva, who says she's been offered a quarter of what her property's worth, wants more. "Commissioners are not doing anything, and we are tired of hearing excuses," she says. "It's time for them to do something about it."

To be clear, an examination of Harris County Appraisals suggests property values in the area are very low, and buyback guidelines are restricted on how much can be spent on the affected properties.

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Still, in a statement, Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia says he will meet with residents and leverage whatever influence he can to find a fair resolution.