Great News for Hurricane Harvey Homeowners. $258 Million in Disaster Relief Funds

If you live in one of the key relief areas hit by Hurricane Harvey, you might have some good news coming your way. The Texas General Land Office has set aside some block grants you can use for home repairs, including foundation repair or home elevation. This funding can be used to put structural problems from the hurricane (and the flooding that came afterwards) behind you and feel more secure in your home again.

These are real grants, not loans, funded by a special appropriation from Congress in response to a presidential disaster declaration. $258 million has been routed through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Texas General Land Office’s Community Development and Revitalization Division.

Low-to-moderate income persons, or those who have an urgent need under the block grant guidelines, can apply for this Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP) if they live in one of the covered relief area counties that include:

  • Brazoria
  • Chambers
  • Galveston
  • Liberty
  • Mongomery
  • Walker

Eligibility – Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP)

To be eligible for a grant under this program, you will have to fall within the income limits for the county where you live, based on the 2018 median income for that area and the number of people in your home. In Walker County, for example, to qualify under the “low income” guideline (which is 80% of the median income of $63,700) a family of four can earn no more than $50,950 per year. Detailed income limits are published with all of the program materials available through the Texas General Land Office.

The program guidelines also set limits on the kinds of homes and damages that are covered, and how the funds can be used. All of the details are available through the official Texas General Land Office website, or you can get application instructions by calling (844) 893-8937. The administrators of this program are required to give applicants complete information packets and keep them informed of their application status in a timely manner. Relief guidelines may allow for up to $60,000 of home elevation assistance in coastal counties and up to $35,000 in non-coastal counties.

A big goal of the program is to get impacted communities back to a standard of living that’s not only good for residents today, but also sustainable for the future. Here’s a quick summary of the standards that home repairs under the grant program are expected to meet:

“All housing units participating in the Program will be required to meet Housing Quality Standards detailed under 24 CFR 982.401, Fair Housing Accessibility Standards, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Housing activities must also meet all local building codes or standards that may apply. All single-family homes should also incorporate resiliency solutions, including elevating the first floor of the habitable area, breakaway ground floor walls, reinforced roofs, storm shutters, use of ENERGY STAR appliances and fixtures, and mold- and mildew-resistant products. All housing unit projects must also meet Green Building Standards.”

Funding Will Expire Soon

Chris Cates, General Manager of Olshan Foundation Repair in Houston, TX, is delighted to see this kind of relief coming to Gulf Coast Region residents. “The effects disasters like Hurricane Harvey have go on long after they’re out of the headlines. The kind of damage people see from extreme wind and flooding can be overwhelming. This grant program is going to help a lot of families get the relief they’ve been waiting for. We advise everyone to read the fine print and make sure they’re working with a reliable representative.

To find out if you’re eligible for repair assistance under this program, visit the Texas General Land Office website, or call the program administrators at (844) 893-8937.  This program will likely only last as long as the funding holds out, so the sooner you get your application started, the better.

Chris Cates

General Manager, Olshan Foundation Repair Houston