Resilience Target 8

Current Status


Activity In 2021

81 structures removed from the floodway

Beyond 2021

5,514 habitable structures remain in the floodway. The City aims to remove 689 structures per year in the floodway to reach the 2030 target.

Related Initiatives

Why Remove Habitable Structures From The Floodway?

While building resilience means more than just preparing for the next storm, Houston’s future will be defined in large part by how it addresses increasing flood risk. A comprehensive approach to water management must not only focus on the function of the bayous, but also on decisions made in the floodplain as well as throughout the region’s watersheds. Decisions made across a watershed, including those upstream, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries, should always consider the impact to communities downstream. The city must also address risks to property within floodways and floodplains while keeping communities whole and preserving affordability. The city has worked with partners to ultimately remove all habitable structures and prevent new development in the floodway. As Houston developed, the city granted permits for new homes adjacent to bayous before the National Flood Insurance Program required mapping of the floodway. As a result, many homes were built within portions of bayou floodways where flow is concentrated and moves at high velocity, placing the homes at higher risk of flooding. These homes will continue to flood as a result of more intense rainfall events; therefore, relocation of these residents to safer areas is the only responsible alternative. To accomplish this objective, some mapped floodways may be able to be reduced through engineering solutions; in other areas, buyouts and property swaps will need to occur. Local ordinances have already been updated to prevent the development of habitable structures within the FEMA-defined floodway and other high-hazard areas. These ordinances will need to be updated to include new flooding and climate data. In 2022, the city aims to kick off a buyout planning study, which aims to develop a comprehensive strategy for relocation of the 5,595 structures identified in the floodway. In addition, the city has worked to acquire structures in the right of way through Harvey CDBG-DR funding. Ultimately, these changes will not only relocate Houstonians currently in harm’s way, but they will also protect future development and guide the city to a more resilient growth strategy.

HCFCD Active Buyout Projects (Costs in Millions) (October 2021)

2021 Data Source
Houston Public Works