Texas Land Commissioner's plan to get Harvey victims back into their homes
The Texas Land Commissioner is urging FEMA to speed up the process when it comes to finding housing for those who lost their homes to Tropical Storm Harvey.
Commissioner George P. Bush was in Nome on Wednesday discussing a plan that is helping homeowners return to their homes as the housing crisis continues to plague Southeast Texas in the aftermath of Harvey.
More than 40,000 storm victims are seeking help to find a place to live.
Commissioner Bush is offering his support with a solution that could keep Southeast Texans in their homes.
Harvey victim Beverly Walters worked 25 years for the state of Texas.
"Now it's time to serve you."
But after Harvey destroyed the house in Nome that Walters and her husband call home, only their dining room table survived.
Walters has now turned to her former employer (the state of Texas) for help.
"When the water came in, it was so much of water to where as it was just horrible, it had overflowed all in, it was everywhere," said Walters.
Commissioner Bush introduced a program, he says, will help more Texans return home.
"It allows a constituent to stay in their home while the repairs are made modifications that meets their needs in a quick and effective way," said Commissioner Bush.
He traveled to the Walters' home Wednesday to showcase the state's Direct Assistance for Limited Home Repair Program.
How it works:
The General Land Office hires a pre-approved pool of contractors who go through vigorous vetting to repair severely damaged houses just enough to make them livable.
"It's more cost-effective than bringing in a MHU, RV or trailer," Bush said. "We found that we can actually house three constituents through the program for every two MHU or RV's or trailers we bring to the sites."
The Walters never imagined they'd be back in their home for Christmas, but Steve Mataro with DSW Homes, the contractor hired by the state, says home for the holidays is highly likely.
"We're going to redo the flooring in the house over here. We're going to replace the doors. We're going to get the kitchen tuned up for her. We're just going to make the house home," said Mataro. owner of DSW Homes.
"Thank you," Walters said.
She knows others have not been as lucky, especially in Nome.
"Right now Nome is a sad little place," said Walters.
Commissioner Bush is also frustrated with FEMA's slow progress in housing Harvey storm victims and has proposed five reforms to speed up the process.
"Getting rid of the unnecessary paperwork to go through the application process, so Beverly when she applied through this program she have have to supply hundreds of pages of documentation through a program that's un-related to housing," Bush said.
Walters hopes that these proposed reforms can help her neighbors and many others waiting to return home.
"There's no place like home, no place like home," said Walters, quoting a line from The Wizard of Oz.
Other reforms that Commissioner Bush is proposing to FEMA would make changes to the Federal Privacy Act to make it easier to transfer information in the disaster application process as well as being able to leverage private inventory of RV's, trailers and manufactured homes to improve access to storm victims.