County officials were on hand at the Harris County Barrett Community Center to let people know they can get homes repaired or even rebuilt thanks to the Harris County Project Recovery-Harvey program.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, Harris County Community Services Director Daphne Lemelle and other officials let the public know workers were available to help with the application process.
“We need your help in continuing to work with us,” Lemelle said. “Please make sure your neighbors know about this program. It could make a huge difference in their lives.”
The program provides homeowners inside Harris County, but outside the Houston city limits, a process to apply for home repair, reconstruction or reimbursement of expenses with federal Harvey recovery funds. Hidalgo said the county is dispersing around $200 million for program.
Garcia talked about how the program helps people recover in the wake of Harvey, which struck the area in August 2017.
“This is just one part of it,” Garcia said. “This is also to help the community that has suffered the most as a result of Harvey and this is the top priority.”
Garcia stressed it was important to let representatives know the dangers of living in a flood-prone area.
“I will ask you to do one thing for me,” he said. “Whenever you get a hold of your members of Congress, one of them, let them know how you feel. Let them know is it unconscionable that in an area like Harris County, where we know Mother Nature all too well, she visits us on a regular basis. We are no strangers to flooding, but we don’t have to reinvent the wheel over and over since the federal government ought to have a good plan in place.”
Garcia said people should visit www.harrisrecovery.org and fill out the applications as soon as possible.
“Know that we share your frustration and that we would rather have to get things done sooner rather than later,” Garcia said. “Today is an indication of the good things that can happen.”
Hidalgo said Harvey was an event that not only affected homes, but people as well.
“Harvey was an especially difficult disaster because it got the core of people’s lives in housing,” Hidalgo said. “People’s homes are anchors for them and their families. When people lost their homes and were forced to live somewhere else, they were still forced to watch and wait until they can rebuild and return. That destroys and disrupts the rest of their lives and the fabric of our community.”
Hidalgo said the announcement of the program was special in light of the tragedies people suffered after Harvey.
“For the first time, we are making a massive investment in housing around Harvey,” she said. “This investment compared to and in addition to what the city received from the federal government, is slated to be the largest investment a region has ever seen in housing. We have an opportunity to spend funds in the smartest way possible that reaches our communities and helps them rebuild.”
Hidalgo said the program does not just rebuild or repair homes.
“It helps us build a stronger community, and a more resilient community in all of Harris County,” she said.
One of the first recipients of the program is Anita Halford, a Crosby resident. Her home was flooded with five feet of water during Harvey. She and her daughter had to be rescued by boat from a rooftop. Her old home, built in 1964, was completely destroyed.
Halford applied for the program and has a brand new two bedroom home built on stilts with an outdoor lift so she can get in and out easier.
“I think this house is very nice. They built it in five weeks,” Halford said.
Halford said although she had to fill out a lot of papers, it was worth it in the end.
“If you are planning to get on the program, do not give up,” she said. “I did but when it got to be my turn, look at what I got in the end.”
There are four intake locations for the program with one in Crosby and another in Pasadena. The Crosby location is 14700 FM 2100 Suite 2A and 2B, Crosby. It is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
To find out more, visit www.harrisrecovery.org or call 832-927-4961.