GLO helps after hurricane, flooding
Harris County and Houston Community Rebuilds with the Help of Texas General Land Office
HOUSTON – (Contributed Story) The Texas General Land Office (GLO) has worked tirelessly to help residents of Harris County and Houston to recover from disasters such as Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda. The GLO’s Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP) has rebuilt more than 1,000 homes in Houston and Harris County, with nearly 1,000 more approved or currently under construction.
At a recent event, Commissioner Dawn Buckingham, M.D., presented the keys to Earnestine Henry, an 86-year-old Houstonian whose 72-year-old home was flooded with 17 inches of water during the hurricane, causing significant damage. Henry’s home is just one of the many success stories of the GLO’s HAP program.
“No other state or territory has performed like Texas in the recovery from Harvey,” said Buckingham. “In total, the GLO has helped more than 10,000 Texas homeowners and renters by rebuilding homes and affordable rental units.”
Ms. Henry’s home is now energy efficient and resilient against future storms. GLO homes meet the housing needs of the residents, including those with mobility challenges. On average, homes rebuilt through the Homeowner Assistance Program increase the value of the property by $85,765. Not only is the homeowner’s investment protected, but their safety is as well.
The GLO’s HAP program has successfully reached the hardest-hit, low and moderate-income, vulnerable, and historically hard-to-reach families and individuals in Houston, as defined by the Fair Housing Act and required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Programs administered by the GLO have significantly outperformed the federal requirement. 80% of GLO disaster recovery funds help those most in need, even though HUD only requires 70%. Nearly 90 percent of all approved applicants identify as Black or Hispanic, and 89 percent of homeowners are considered low-to-moderate income, with 63 percent of applicants making less than 30 percent of the area median income.
Of her new home, Ms. Henry stated, “To the GLO, I thank you all. You all have helped us very, very much. God is still blessing me.”
The GLO’s HAP program is not just about rebuilding homes; it’s about rebuilding communities. The program’s success is evident in the stories of people like Earnestine Henry, who can finally return to her house and rebuild her life after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
Protecting our Community Investments
On Tuesday, March 14, Commissioner Dawn Buckingham, M.D., held a joint press conference with members of the Harris County Commissioners Court. Since her first day in office, Commissioner Buckingham has made it her commitment to serve all Texans impacted by natural disasters and to do it well. One of her top priorities is to streamline communication between local and state officials and the General Land Office. As a former member of the Texas Senate, she recognizes that it is essential to work together to ensure remaining unspent disaster recovery funds are used to benefit the people of Harris County and Houston both efficiently and effectively.
Commissioner Buckingham understands the necessity for collaboration with Harris County leadership in order to best serve our mutual constituents, and this press conference will mark a new beginning for disaster recovery in the Harris County region. Commissioner Adrian Garcia has graciously offered to host the event at the Leonel Castillo Community Center in his district, and Commissioners Rodney Ellis, Tom Ramsey, and Lesley Briones joined together for the announcement.
“My goal is simple, serve the people we are supposed to serve and do it well,” added Buckingham. “This collaboration is critically important as time is running out. We are in a use it or lose it situation as these federal dollars go away if they are not used by August 2026. I want to thank the members of the Harris County Commissioners Court for your partnership and communication on this topic. Together we will work to identify HUD eligible projects and ensure these dollars are used to protect Harris County communities from future flooding and other elements.”