As we have heard through news report, the emergency situation for victims of Hurricane Harvey has passed and now we must focus on the long-term recovery for the region.
The Trump administration must plan and coordinate the federal response to the situation. And the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be involved in this response.
NPR spoke about the plans for housing recovery efforts with Secretary Carson. Speaking about the biggest challenges for HUD in the recovery efforts, Carson told NPR, “Well there have been a lot of families affected, particularly HUD supported families in the thirty-nine counties in Texas that have been affected – there are 48,534 families, many have them been displaced.”
An additional 20,000 families in HUD multi-family properties have been displaced.
Carson said that the first thing that HUD is doing is “Finding out where those families are, looking at all of those properties, determining which ones people can be in immediately and which ones require rehabilitation.”
Carson said that all HUD assisted families affected by Hurricane Harvey will receive some type of housing – maybe in some cases transitional housing at first. He discussed lessons learned to cut the “red tape” that hindered the recovery after previous storms.
A concern regarding how ably HUD can assist with the recovery is that the agency currently faces many vacancies including a deputy secretary and general counsel.
President Trump’s proposed budget cuts HUD’s spending by $6 billion. Carson said “I think that a lot of the focus is on what is being cut and I think perhaps we should turn the focus to what is actually happening. Are people actually being helped? Is anyone being thrown out onto the street?”
Carson continued, “More people will be helped because of the way that we are changing the focus away from putting people into a house and changing that to creating nourishing neighborhoods and places where we can develop talent for people so that their goal is in fact, not to stay there the rest of their lives.”
“We will use everything we have in the most efficient and effective way,” said Carson.
Carson pointed to the continuum of care programs and permanent housing solutions as ways that HUD can address the affordable housing crisis and homelessness. He said that HUD has been “stretching” its funding by eliminating duplicative efforts.
Carson worries about the debt that will be left for future generations and defended the proposed cuts.
“But if in fact, things are moving forward, we are getting more done, we are getting more people housed, we are getting a better handle on the homelessness problem, then I think people should be able to say, yes, that is what is happening,” said Carson.