AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey could benefit from a new grant announced Friday by the federal government.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced a $5 billion Housing and Urban Development grant to help rebuild after Hurricane Harvey. But he’s asking the federal government for a lot more. In return, the White House says, the state of Texas needs to “step up.”
The funding, announced Friday, comes in the form of community development block grants.
“We know it’s going to be a long recovery, but we’re going to do everything in our power to help expedite the very much needed funds to help these families rebuild,” HUD Deputy Secretary Pam Patenaude said.
“This is to meet the unmet housing needs in the state of Texas and to help the Texans that have been displaced from their homes to rebuild their lives, to rebuild their homes, and to rebuild their communities,” she added.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson issued a written statement that said, “As President Trump has said from the beginning, the whole federal family is with the people of Texas to help them recover from this devastating storm as quickly as possible.”
The announcement came from Patenaude in a press conference with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, where Abbott provided several updates on the state’s recovery efforts after the storm.
The governor recently visited the nation’s capital, meeting with members of the Texas delegation to ask for $61 billion in funding.
Congress passed a $15 billion relief package from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) in September. President Donald Trump later approved another disaster package totaling $36.5 billion that included $18 billion for Texas, as well as help for Florida and Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
So far, Texas has been earmarked for approximately $33 billion in disaster aid. The storm did around $200 billion in damage, according to estimates.
On Friday, the Trump Administration put forward another round of emergency relief money, totaling about $44 million nationwide, far less than what Abbott wanted for Texas.
“What was offered up by Mick Mulvaney and OMB [Office of Management and Budget] is completely inadequate for the needs of the state of Texas and I believe does not live up to what the President wants to achieve,” Abbott said.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders mentioned the Lone Star State ought to consider spending some of its own money on rebuilding.
“I don’t think $44 billion is a low amount. And my guess is if you ask any average citizen across this country, they wouldn’t feel like it’s low either. But at this point, Texas has not put any state dollars into this process,” Sanders said. “We feel strongly that they should step up and work with the federal government in this process.”
Cornyn added that the relief needs in Texas are similar to what officials needed in the northeast after Super Storm Sandy, and the damage left behind by Hurricane Katrina in the south.
“Texas has not put any state dollars into this process.”
“We’re not going to be asking to be treated any better than anybody else, but we’re sure not going to tolerate being treated worse,” Cornyn stated.
Vice President Mike Pence was in Austin this week with Energy Secretary Rick Perry to meet with FEMA officials and attend the Republican Governors Association conference.
Abbott said that the President, Vice President, and other cabinet members have been working “aggressively and collaboratively” on Harvey relief with Texas officials and members of the Texas Delegation.
“We are going to continue our work to make sure that we have the resources we need to adequately rebuild,” Abbot said, adding that they need to “work with the speed that is needed for fellow Texans who continue to suffer, continue to need housing in the most urgent way possible.”
Land Commissioner Bush, who will head up the process to implement the grant funding and disperse the money, said a draft of the action plan was already completed.