Reports Show Harvey Funds Shifted to Inland Counties

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush | Image by Bob Daemmrich

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey caused damage to over 300,000 homes in Texas; however, none of those homes were located in Coryell County.

According to the Texas Tribune, opponents of Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush said he intends to move $3.4 billion of Hurricane Harvey relief funds away from the coast and redirect them to the inland county.

U.S. Representative Al Green from Houston stated that the small agricultural county, located 220 miles from the Gulf, was not the location that Congress intended when it sent $4 billion in relief to Texas.

Green said, in part, “We wanted to help victims who were hurt by Harvey and had the potential to be hurt again.”

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) accused Bush’s office of discriminating against African-American and Latino Texans after the land office awarded $1 billion of the aid last year but gave none to the city of Houston.

As the land office worked on developing a new spending plan, it had the opportunity to address these imbalances in the system.

Another Tribune article from 2021 reported that Bush subsequently requested $750 million to be sent to Harris County specifically.

“I have heard the overwhelming concerns of Harris County regarding the mitigation funding competition,” Bush said in a statement last year.

The Texas Tribune conducted a study and alleged the land office is on a similar track as it prepares to distribute another $1.2 billion of the federal money. The Tribune continues to claim a disproportionate amount of money will go to inland communities at a lower risk of natural disaster.

The Tribune reached out for interviews with the land office and Bush’s campaign for attorney general, but neither responded. Last year, Bush’s spokesperson stated that inland areas are just as susceptible to severe weather as coastal areas and that they end up as safe havens for evacuees.

According to John Henneberger, co-director of Texas Housers, an advocacy group for low-income housing, the land office has failed to meet the most fundamental requirement for the money, which is to spend disaster aid in the areas that are at the highest risk for disasters.

“Why does some community 200 miles from the coast get a new water system when you’ve got neighborhoods that have flooded four or five times in the last decade in a coastal community?” Henneberger asked. “It’s a very cynical, and we think illegal, use of the funds.”

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