The Texas General Land Office is looking for companies interested in taking over Houston’s housing repair program, the Houston Chronicle reported.
But state officials say that inquiry will be moot if local officials pick up the sluggish pace of Hurricane Harvey recovery.
The newspaper reported that the proposal would essentially start the $428 million program over again by requiring the company it selects to staff Houston offices with case managers, perform community outreach, process aid applications and supervise repairs.
GLO spokeswoman Brittany Eck told the Chronicle the agency hasn’t taken over the program but is prepared to step in if the assistance process in Houston and Harris County continues to drag.
“We are still hopeful that the City of Houston and Harris County both will see drastic improvement in their programs and that this will not be necessary,” Eck said, “but at a certain point we’ll have to make a decision if that progress is not made. … [W]hat we’re trying to do right now is to minimize the disruption that would come from having to take over those programs.”
The newspaper compared the efforts of Houston and the GLO and the differences are stark: the Houston program has finished 51 home repairs and reimbursed 30 homeowners who took care of repairs themselves out of its $1.3 billion federal allotment. The GLO, which is implementing repair programs in 48 counties, has finished work on 367 homes and has put another 714 under construction with its $3.2 billion federal allotment.
Eck said GLO staff had productive meetings with city and county leaders on Wednesday as the state agency works with local officials to try and speed up the recovery process.