On November 10, HUD Assistant Secretary Mercedes Marquez issued a letter to Governor Rick Perry denying the State of Texas’s Amendment 1 of the Action Plan for CDBG Disaster Recovery Grantees. The proposed amendment would give the state $1.7 billion in supplemental CDBG funds for Hurricane Ike Recovery. Secretary Marquez cites the State’s proposed amendment as “substantially incomplete as it does not comply with applicable action plan and citizen participation requirements.”
According to HUD, the state fails to provide detailed information on the COG’s methods of allocating funds to local governments. It also fails to make these methods available for the public to examine and critique. Other concerns brought up are the State’s failure to update its 2003 Analysis of Impediments for furthering Fair Housing and the State’s use of CDBG activity funds for mitigation of future disaster as opposed to recovery for direct damages. The State of Texas now has 45 days to provide information on the methods of fund allocation and to acquire adequate citizen participation.
TxLIHIS, Texas Appleseed, and the National Low Income Housing Coalition applauded HUD’s decision as it confirms the lack of accountability that exists in Texas’s disaster recovery effort. It re-emphasizes the need for clarity in fund distribution so that funds remain focused on the real needs of hurricane survivors. It also stresses the need of the State of Texas to reassess its current strategy for furthering fair housing in the wake of a disaster.
While the Governor’s press release asserts HUD’s action will delay recovery and cause Texas to “bear the brunt of the costs of recovery,” it is important to remember that the State of Texas has yet to obligate at least $476 million of unawarded funds from the first CDBG allocation of $1.3 billion.