By Eric Samuels, President/CEO
The General Land Office (GLO) recently released an Action Plan announcing $5 billion in funds for Harvey recovery. While I’m encouraged that homelessness is included in this plan, I’m concerned that the strategies outlined to address disaster-related homelessness are not adequate.
As I reported to Texas’ 11 Continuums of Care nearly two weeks ago, the GLO has opened up its Action Plan for a period of public comment. The deadline for comments is this Thursday, April 26th, at 5 p.m.
With public comments, there is strength in numbers. The more comments that touch upon a specific topic, the more likely the GLO will directly respond to that set of concerns. That is why I’m asking you to join us in addressing the Action Plan’s insufficient provisions for homelessness caused or worsened by Harvey.
I realize that asking you to comment on a 128-page document by Thursday is no small feat. While you are welcome to read the entire document here, I’m listing some key points below. I encourage you to personalize your comment by adding whatever data and analysis you see fit.
The quickest way to send your comment is via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, the deadline is 5 p.m., Thursday, April 26th. Thank you for your help!
KEY ACTION PLAN POINTS
- HUD has allocated $5.024 billion in funds to Texas for unmet recovery needs from Hurricane Harvey, particularly “long-term recovery and restoration of infrastructure, housing, and economic revitalization in the most impacted and distressed areas.”
- However, only $50 million–just under 1 percent–of these funds are being designated for a Homelessness Prevention Program, which includes short-term mortgage assistance, utility assistance, and rental assistance for households still recovering from Harvey.
- The plan offers inadequate funding for assisting people made homeless by Harvey. The funding is also not sufficient to assist people already experiencing homelessness whose situation worsened as a result of Harvey.
- This allocation does not offer funding for addressing long-term solutions to reduce disaster-related homelessness.
- There are no explicit references to addressing individuals with disabilities.
- The Action Plan makes no guarantee that particular attention will be paid to individuals with Extremely Low-Income levels (30 percent of Area Median Income).
Below are some points that you may use in your comments:
- Funding should be increased because we have evidence from FEMA and our Annual Point-in-Time Count that many thousands of people in Texas are still experiencing homelessness or housing instability because of Harvey.
- The plan should designate Continuums of Care (CoCs) as regional partners in recovery planning related to homelessness since they are best suited to broker homelessness-related disaster recovery.
- This plan should identify specific funding designated to mitigate the impact of disaster-related homelessness through research, interagency coordination, and technological infrastructure.
Thank you for your time and support.