Hurricane Harvey Funding Dashboard Overview
In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast with about five feet of rain over the course of five days. In Harris County, almost 30% of the total land area flooded from the storm.
The Hurricane Harvey Funding Dashboard captures the main sources of federal funding for the two largest subrecipients of disaster recovery funds in the area—Harris County and the City of Houston—as they continue to rebuild from the storm’s devastating impacts. Federal funding data is dispersed across federal grant sites, government reports, and local government websites. Kinder’s funding dashboard consolidates federal allocations for flood recovery and risk mitigation projects in Harris County and the City of Houston—side-by-side one another—in a single, online interface that is updated regularly.
What’s Included in the Hurricane Harvey Funding Dashboard? How Can I Use it?
The dashboard tracks federal grant funding and expenditures related to housing, infrastructure, and economic development—programs that provide the local jurisdictions with an opportunity to transform hard-hit communities. It shows the major sources of federal funding that were allocated to the City of Houston and Harris County once the area was declared a major disaster. Kinder researchers organized the funding dashboard around three recovery stages:
|Topic Areas||Short-Term Recovery||Long-Term Hazard Mitigation||Community Development Needs|
|Related Grants||FEMA PA
- Short-Term Recovery
- Short-Term Recovery refers to a Hurricane Harvey recovery phase that uses FEMA and USDA funds to assist with rebuilding infrastructure following the storm.
- Long-Term Hazard Mitigation
- Long-Term Hazard Mitigation refers to long-term efforts to strengthen communities in terms of economic and infrastructure development and eliminate community-wide impacts from disasters in the future using FEMA, USACE, and HUD funding.
- Community Development Needs
- Community Development Needs refers to the process through which HUD receives damage estimate data from state and local government assessments and can then determine how it will allocate CDBG-DR funds to state agencies for unmet recovery needs. State grantees can then disburse funding to local governments as subrecipients. Additionally, HUD can provide direct grant allocations to cities and counties.
Disaster Recovery Process
The disaster recovery funding process is complex. Once Congress appropriates funds for disaster recovery, the time it takes for funding to be spent varies by program. In terms of grant coordination, some FEMA programs require that state and local governments incur costs that are later reimbursed by the federal government. A HUD program, for example, mandates that state and local governments develop a funding disbursement plan, which the federal government must approve. Local agencies and philanthropic groups also help to fill in funding holes left by federal grants.
Overview of Funding Programs
Several aid programs fund Harvey recovery, including six major federal grant programs:
- Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance (FEMA PA)
- Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (FEMA HMGP)
- Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Flood Mitigation Assistance (FEMA FMA)
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (HUD CDBG-DR)
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
In the Houston area, federal government funds for flood recovery are allocated to either the City of Houston, with a population of more than 2 million people, or Harris County, with a population of more than 4.5 million people.
Why Do Funding Allocations to Local Governments Differ?
The City of Houston and Harris County submitted applications after Harvey to federal authorities who are responsible for determining if such proposals meet eligibility requirements for federal funding. These applications included grant programs pertaining to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), such as Public Assistance (PA), Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA), and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).
Other federal grant programs include those by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Funding allocation through HUD programs, such as the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR), are determined based on agency and local government calculations of unmet needs for long-term community recovery.
Terms and Descriptions
- FEMA FMA
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant Program is a competitive, nationwide program that is awarded to government entities once a year. The program disburses funding to residents through the Texas Water Development Board.
- FEMA PA
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Public Assistance program disburses funding to applicants through the Texas Division of Emergency Management after a presidential disaster declaration.
- FEMA HMGP
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program disburses funding through the Texas Division of Emergency Management. A local government entity must apply on behalf of residents after a presidential disaster declaration.
- HUD CDBG DR
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program disburses funding to grantees through the Texas General Land Office. The program aims to address unmet needs following a disaster.
The main funding priorities for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during a disaster are to protect lives and property as well as provide engineering and technical support at the federal and local government levels.
- USDA NRCS
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has a recovery program for emergencies, including flooding, called the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program. The EWP Program helps communities to protect lives and property from flooding and soil erosion in a watershed through technical and financial assistance.
The amount of federal funding that is designated to be spent by a local governmental entity.
The amount of federal funding that a local governmental entity spends on its disaster response and recovery.
Other Ways Recovery Is Paid For - Local Funding Initiatives
- Disclaimer on Local Funds
While our analysis focuses on the federal government as the main source of disaster recovery funds, it is important to highlight that state and local initiatives play a key role in allocating funds for recovery and are not a part of the Hurricane Harvey Funding Dashboard.
In Harris County, voters passed a $2.5 billion bond measure in August 2018 to fund projects that reduce flood damage, such as channel improvements and stormwater detention basins. The Harris County Flood Control District provides summaries of completed bond projects as well as monthly progress reports of current projects.
As of July 2019, the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, a joint initiative established by the city and county, raised $114 million from over 126,000 donors and served an estimated 183,000 households. The Greater Houston Community Foundation administers the grant program to individuals and households across the city and county for basic needs, financial assistance, and other services.
To help cover unmet needs left by federal funding, philanthropic dollars are a major source of support. In November 2017, for example, immediately following Hurricane Harvey, several relief funds raised substantial sources of funding including United Way of Greater Houston ($5.68 million); JJ Watt Foundation ($30 million); Greater Houston Community Foundation ($36 million); and Rebuild Texas ($2.15 million).