Hurricane Harvey damage still a reality for residents 6 years later

It’s been almost six years since Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and some residents are still living in flood-ravaged homes. What’s the hold-up for some people?

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Some Houstonians who didn’t have flood insurance when the water rose turned to a government program to help rebuild, but a couple of residents say things haven’t gone as they had hoped.

"What they’re saying is my house is not worth repairing," explained homeowner Jonathan Pierre. "How they’ve set up their program is $65,000 for repairs, and if you want to get a house built it’s $205,000."

The mold and rotted floors left by Harvey in 2017 at Pierre’s nearly 3400 square foot Northwest Houston home, years later are still there. He had just inherited the house and didn’t have flood insurance.

"It’s horrible. Imagine living in a home you don’t even want to invite your family to," Pierre says.

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So he turned to the Homeowner Assistance Program, now run by the Texas General Land Office for help.

"The most they can do on a house build is $205,000. I said well in my neighborhood the homes cost a little bit more than that, and it’s not just, it’s not up to my standards, my HOA is very strict," Pierre said. "They said the home that is built has to be the same exact home that was here before.  What I’m hoping is a good Samaritan in the program gets rid of the red tape and gets my home built." 

"The people should be moving quicker because they know we’re in duress," he continued. "I feel as though because it’s for low-income people naturally they’re taking their time." 

Pierre says he will not accept the 3 bedrooms, 2 bath 1500 square foot home the GLO program is offering.

"Taking a $200,000 equity loss. I can’t do that," he says. 

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However, according to GLO on average homes built in the program increase the property’s value by $85,000.  

Charley Wolridge who is one of the 1300 Houston and Harris County residents the HUD funded program has built homes for after Harvey. She says when she first moved in a year ago she was pulling trash from under her newly laid lawn.

"At my house I need repairs. The boards, stakes under my house, they’re all split," Wolridge explained. 

She adds that she feels her home was built in that same manner.

"There were bottles, soda cans, cans of beer, and they had covered it up," says Wolridge. "I no longer have a garage or my carport or any storage. My car has to sit in the hot sun. The rooms are so much smaller. It’s like they did what they wanted to do, and you have to accept that because you need help." 

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GLO sent inspectors to take a look at some of the issues she says she’s having.

"Y’all need to talk to GLO," Wolridge says. "They need to treat people better than what they’re doing." 

In a statement, GLO says it uses "licensed, insured, bonded, builders procured through a federally regulated process" to build homes in the Homeowner Assistance Program that "exceed standards of safety, resiliency, and energy efficiency" and the homes "meet all federal, state, and local building ordinances." 

GLO’s statement also addresses building houses larger than what the program offers, stating "HUD does not allow grant administrators to provide a custom home replacement program."

The homes come with a 1-year builder and 10-year structural warranty.