Houston city leaders call on federal agencies to take over Harvey relief funds

Saturday local leaders called out federal agencies to take over the distribution of Hurricane Harvey relief funds after the Texas General Land Office denied aid to the city of Houston for the second time. 

Four and a half years after Hurricane Harvey, Sandra Edwards’s home in Fifth Ward remains in disrepair. 

"No walls!" she says giving a tour of her living room. "When it rains, it still rains in here. You can see I tried to tape up the dust through the cracks. It’s unlivable and unbearable... Who wants to stay in a house that's duct-taped together?"

Fox 26 checked in with Edwards in January. At that time, she was waiting on repair approval from the GLO office. She says she recently had to send in documents that she spent some money on repairs and is waiting to hear back about additional funds. 

"They see we can’t afford it, and we are not getting the funds that need to come our way," she says.

Out of $4.3 billion in federal post-hurricane Harvey aid, so far, the city is getting none of it to help its homeowners. 

"Zero, zero to Houston," says Congressman Al Green during a press conference held at his office Saturday morning. 

"If money is spent under this plan with a sham formula, then HUD should intervene," he says. 

Friday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development accepted a plan from the Texas General Land Office to give $750 million to Harris County, after GLO denied funding to both the city and county in 2021. 

"We welcome the 750 million, but the City of Houston did not receive an equitable portion for its residents," says Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia.

According to the mayor’s office, Houston and Harris County took on half of all Harvey damage. The office recommended both receive at least one billion dollars each in federal aid.

Garcia, Green, and Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee say the justice department should plan to get involved.

"HUD has cited GLO twice as failing to not discriminate against minorities," says Lee.

In March, HUD reported discrimination in GLO's distribution of Harvey funds, saying it "substantially disadvantaged Black and Hispanic residents".

A GLO representative sent Fox 26 a statement Saturday saying minorities make up more than two-thirds of communities getting Harvey project funding and that the office is drafting a response to discrimination claims.

Residents like Edwards who are still living in disaster, believe that is exactly what is holding up their rescue from storm damage.

"I have seen death behind this, and that's not fair to us. Not fair at all," says Edwards.