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Court Blocks State from Managing Houston Hurricane Harvey Funds

A Travis County judge has prevented the state of Texas from taking over the dispersal of Hurricane Harvey recovery funds. Judge Tim Sulak blocked the Texas General Land Office (GLO) from taking control of the federally provided funds. For months, the state has expressed concern over the slow dispensing of the funds by Houston.

In May, we reported that Houston had only repaired 51 homes and reimbursed 30 homeowners, a slight increase from the approximately 30 people who had received help as of December of 2019. The state as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have been critical of the city’s slow rollout of funds.

As of July 2020, the city has confirmed that 59 people have received approval for construction, and 44 have obtained reimbursement checks. This means that 22 more people have received help since last April. Only $15 million of the $1.3 billion received by the city has made it to residents.

What Judge Turner Decided About the Harvey Fund Takeover

According to Judge Turner, requests made by the GLO to the city are unrealistic in frivolous. He created a temporary injunction to stop the state from seizing the funds in early July. Now, the judge’s most recent decision means that the GLO will have to appeal the decision to proceed with taking over the recovery process. It has confirmed that it intends to do so.

In April, Turner issued a statement about the state’s attempt to take over the process:

“In the face of unrealistic, frivolous requirements, the city has quietly worked to correct our issues, expecting the GLO to do the same. instead, the GLO’s lack of capacity for reviewing our files, their ongoing technical issues, their failure to provide clear and consistent guidance for what they needed upfront, and their slow-walking of many of the other documents required for our recovery programs contributed to the delay commissioner bush now uses to attempt to strip the city of its funding.”

Brittany Eck, a spokesperson for Disaster Recovery, rebuked the city’s behavior and criticized the judge’s decision. She said that the city’s focus on litigation instead of helping residents is “reprehensible."

“City officials and their attorneys continue to hinder disaster recovery for the most vulnerable Houston residents three years after Hurricane Harvey. The GLO has a proven track record of success in rebuilding homes in 48 counties, yet rather than put people back in their homes, the City of Houston has chosen to pay attorneys to keep Houstonians in the City’s own failed housing program,” Eck commented.

If you're still struggling to receive compensation for damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, call our hurricane insurance claim lawyers today at (888) 400-2101 for a free consultation.