Texas is one of nearly a dozen states and territories waiting for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to unlock $16 billion in disaster mitigation funds that were allocated nearly a year ago by Congress to help vulnerable communities get ready for the next Hurricanes Harvey, Irma or Maria.
Two major hurricanes made landfall since the money was approved. Still, states and territories like Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Puerto Rico are unable to tap the largest well of disaster mitigation funds ever appropriated by Congress.
Nobody seems to know why.
HUD officials — back from a 35-day furlough — aren’t saying when the administrative logjam will clear. “We hope to publish the program rules shortly. Precisely when, I can’t say,” agency spokesman Brian Sullivan said in an email early this week. He provided no additional details.
Officials in coastal states, and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, say that every day of delay is one day closer to the 2019 hurricane season, and the prospect of billions of dollars in additional property losses.