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GLO: Post-Harvey, 222 homes underway

More than 200 Port Arthur area homes, damaged or destroyed by Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey in 2017, are in the pre-construction or construction phase with federal help, representatives of the Texas General Land Office told the Port Arthur City Council on Tuesday.

Rhonda Masters of GLO and Shaun Davis, representing AECOM, which has helped GLO administrate federal funding for disaster recovery and homeowner assistance, told councilmembers that almost 1,000 Port Arthur people have applied for the federal program’s help, although not all of them have emerged yet from the application process.

Nonetheless, the first home has been built and is occupied and 221 others are in the pipeline. The representatives said some $265 million has been allocated to help homeowners in Southeast Texas, including Port Arthur.

Most of the Port Arthur people have been helped into the application process through working with GLO and AECOM representatives stationed at the 501 Building downtown. There, Davis said, applicants have been shepherded through the process, although not all of the people have presented required needed documentation to receive aid.

Documents that applicants must have include:

  • Photo identification, such as driver license, passport or state issued ID.
  • Latest tax returns
  • Proof of ownership of the home, which must be the primary residence
  • Proof that the home was their primary residence on Aug. 25, 2017
  • Homestead exemption proof or a bank statement or utility bills that confirm the applicant was living in the residence at the time of the storm
  • Child support information
  • Evidence of actual damage due to Harvey
  • Verification of flood insurance if the applicant was in a flood zone.

 

Masters and Davis requested that the City Council partner with GLO to present a “hosting” program or programs to solicit more applications and to encourage those who have not completed the application process to press on. They said Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who heads GLO, has encouraged his staff and AECOM to “get people to yes” in making their requests for federal housing aid.

Councilmembers seemed eager to help GLO set up meetings and encourage more people through the aid process. Port Arthur is well ahead of other communities in seeking aid, at least in part because of efforts of the mayor, City Council and professional staff in securing a place for applicants to go for help.

“You’ve been terrific partners,” Davis said.

Davis said that 17 contractors have been approved for construction work. Each has about 10 houses to work on, he said, and will get additional work depending upon their demonstrated speed and quality of construction and service to homeowners.

GLO designated counselors, who can help applicants through the process, are at the 501 Building, 501 Procter St., from 9-4 Tuesday through Thursday.