Hurricane Disaster Spending–an opportunity to repair homes *and* create jobs in affected communities

Texas Low Income Housing Information Service is working with residents in Galveston, Houston and the Valley to make sure that under-employed and unemployed Texans get as much work as possible from the Hurricane Recovery dollars.  Section 3 says that when HUD dollars are spent on housing or infrastructure projects and low-income people in the affected communities should be the first ones to get the jobs and that contracts should be directed to companies run by low- and moderate-income people from those areas.

In the past, HUD and the state have rarely enforced these provisions. TxLIHIS has in the last few weeks done training for community leaders in the Rio Grande Valley, Galveston and Houston to give them the information about what is required under Section 3.  In each of these areas, community leaders are excited about helping local people get work out of the funds that are going to be spent in their areas.

TxLIHIS has put together a model Section 3 plan that takes the federal regulations and puts ‘meat on the bones’ of that framework so that people will be successful in getting work and contracts.  The key pieces of the plan are the following:

  • The creation of a pipeline for matching job seekers and contractors.  Components of this pipeline include:

  A clear plan from contractors awarded funding as to what kind of personnel they will need to hire
An intake system for job seekers which identifies their skills and provides training as needed in order to fill the needs identified by the contractors
A first source provision by which contractors come first to the pipeline manager to hire new workers and gives feedback on those workers to keep the pipeline producing workers with the needed skills

  • Support for small businesses to be able to participate in the larger contracts.
  • Funding from the HUD dollars to provide the training and support services.
  • The creation of a stakeholders group to get reports about the progress under Section 3 and work with the city or county to improve the program.
  • Reasonable but higher-than-federal goals for the hiring to be done under the program.
  • Monetary penalties for contractors who do not meet the requirements.

Texas Low Income Housing Information Service believes that this kind of robust Section 3 plan benefits neighborhoods, cities by creating a better trained workforce and stronger local small businesses.

This blog post was written by Liz Wolff