With tens of thousands of Houston homes destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, lawmakers at the state capitol are trying to determine the timeline for those residents rebuilding. The topic has revived discussions about use of the State’s Rainy Day Fund and calls for a 2nd special session
In the Houston-area alone, according to the state, an estimated 30 to 40-thousand homes were completely destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. The cost to rebuild or replace those homes runs in the billions while the state has only millions on hand to provide housing aid.
Houston Rep. Carol Alavardo chairs the House Committee on Urban Affairs, which heard from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs about the overall housing needs, costs and state resources on hand to help rebuild.
“TDHCA, they’re very cash-strapped, I mean they have very little money as you heard," Avarado says.
Once the state is able to pinpoint a more accurate number on the total number of homes impacted by the storm, it will request additional federal aid from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
State officials say it could take up to months before homeowners see any state or federal relief and that has revived some talk about the governor calling lawmakers back to the capitol for a 2nd special session to look for alternative state resources, including the use of the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
San Antonio State Rep. Diego Bernal, who sits on the House committee says state and federal aid needs to reach these affected homeowners on a faster time frame and governor has the power to make that happen.
“Trust me I’m not a fan of special session, but if we’re being honest about the scope and scale of this, it’s probably not enough in the long term," Bernal says.
Gov. Greg Abbott says he doesn't believe a second special session to address Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and state aid was necessary at this time.
The House Committee on Urban Affairs plans to continue to meet in the weeks and months ahead to monitor the state’s housing response in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.