People are welcomed to a new City of Houston Housing Recovery Center set up at the North Wayside Sports and Recreation Center on N. Wayside Drive on Jan. 14, 2019. The city opened five regional centers where people can apply for Harvey relief.
The City Council on Wednesday authorized Houston’s housing department to apply for about $45 million in federal funding in part to help the city build its stock of affordable housing.
The bulk of the funding — about $28 million — would flow through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program, which allocates funds to Houston each year on top of the disaster recovery grant money it has sent to the city for Hurricane Harvey recovery.
On HoustonChronicle.com: Harvey’s aftermath: Houstonians struggle to recover after hurricane
About a quarter of the community development grant money would be slated for improving public facilities, with another quarter going toward home rehabilitation, according to the housing department’s recommendations.
The rest would be split among public services, at about $3.5 million; code enforcement, about $2.8 million; multifamily housing, $300,000; economic development, $400,000; and lead-paint abatement, $275,000.
The program administration price tag comes in at just over $5.6 million. The housing department estimates that it would generate about $4 million through the block grant program, with $24 million coming in potential federal funds.
The item passed with little fuss among council members, though At-Large Councilwoman Amanda Edwards, who previously objected to requirements in contracts for Hurricane Harvey recovery, asked whether there was a way to divert people awaiting Harvey aid into other programs.
On HoustonChronicle.com: Thousands line up for Hurricane Harvey recovery funds but they’re still waiting
Constituents were so confused by the process, she said, that they dropped out of the system entirely.
“There’s frustration with our housing programs in terms of the various requirements,” Edwards said. “I don’t know if it would be applicable, but I think we need a systematic approach to how we can register better customer service to our residents, so it’s not a frustrating process.”
Edwards’ comments did not generate discussion among council members and the grant application passed without any objection.
The funding amounts approved Wednesday fall in line with the housing department’s annual grant applications in prior years.
Council members also gave the housing department authority to apply for $9.4 million in grants that would fund a variety of services for single- and multi-family affordable rental units, including rehabilitation, relocation and construction of new units.
The grant application also contains about $9.9 million for housing for people with AIDS, setting aside funds for rental assistance and other housing services. About $2 million would additionally go toward homeless shelters and programs that aim to prevent homelessness.