Housing Officials Expect More Transparency After Harvey

Local housing officials are hoping to avoid the same pitfalls seen after Ike once federal money begins to pour in for recovery from Hurricane Harvey.

Nearly a decade after Ike, Houston still has not spent tens of millions it received to build affordable housing.

“I’m hopeful that we’ve learned from our mistakes in the prior go-around and are able to have clearer direction about what the money can be used for,” says Tory Gunsolley, CEO of the Houston Housing Authority.

“You had communities and the mayor at the time saying we want you to invest in certain neighborhoods, and you had HUD and the state saying we want you to invest in other neighborhoods,” he says.  “The challenge is finding a place to be able to build that everyone will agree to.”

Several affordable housing projects in low-income areas after Ike were later blocked by the state and feds when fair housing advocates cried foul, saying it promoted segregation and violated the Civil Rights Act.

Gunsolley is hoping for more transparency this time around.

“The state has to develop an action plan and make it available for public comment before the money is actually approved,” he says.

That means it could be months or even years before money sent after Harvey is actually spent.

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