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Mayor Turner’s statement on HUD finding that the GLO discriminates against communities of color

Mayor Sylvester Turner today agreed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s finding that the state’s General Land Office (GLO) discriminated against communities of color when denying flood mitigation funding to Houston and Harris County.

“The city has no interest in fighting the state GLO because no one benefits. We are asking for our proportional share of flood mitigation dollars, and that is what HUD is saying. HUD is saying you cannot take the money we are sending to Texas because of Hurricane Harvey and then direct most of those proceeds out of Houston and Harris County, which experienced 50 percent of the damage. That doesn’t make sense because it goes against the intent, and it benefits other communities that are not nearly as prone to flood as Houston Harris County,” said Mayor Turner.

In its 13 page decision on a complaint filed by Texas Housers and Northeast Action Collective, HUD wrote, “The Department finds that the design and operation of the Competition discriminated on the basis of race and national origin. GLO utilized two scoring criteria that substantially and predictably disadvantaged minority residents,1 with particularly disparate outcomes for Black residents.

“What HUD is saying to the state GLO is that you need to redo your matrix and get it right. If you don’t, we’ll turn it over to the U.S. Department of Justice,” said Mayor Turner, who added, “when hurricanes come, and extreme weather events happen, they are not looking for a Democratic or Republican city or neighborhood. In Hurricane Harvey, it did not matter if you lived in a poor or affluent community or Democratic or Republican neighborhood. Hurricane Harvey poured rain on the city of Houston across the board, 52 inches in about four days. HUD is saying to the GLO that the state’s matrix is inherently discriminatory. That is what the city and Harris County have been saying for some time.”

In May 2021, Mayor Turner joined Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Houston City Council Members, and Harris County Commissioners in sending a letter to the GLO to express disappointment that the state agency denied flood mitigation funding (CDBG-MIT) for the City of Houston and Harris County.

Mayor Turner and Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis also sent a letter to The Honorable Marcia L. Fudge, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, criticizing the evaluation criteria and matrix that GLO used in determining the allocation of $1 billion, which left zero dollars to Houston.