I'm Julia Orduña, Southeast Texas regional director for Texas Housers. I lead our work in disaster recovery from our Houston office.
With last Friday's ruling, GLO has been found in violation of the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a law enacted to enforce the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.
The Act provides that, "No person in the United States shall, on grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participating in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal funding assistance."
The GLO has accepted $4 billion in federal funds to provide critical public improvements, especially flood protection. When the State applied for these funds, it certified to the federal government that the State would administer the funds in compliance with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The GLO has failed to do so.
Texas Housers and the Northeast Action Collective work with many low- and moderate- income families who still have not recovered from hurricane damage to their homes and their neighborhoods. Many members of one dedicated group, the Harvey Forgotten Survivors Caucus, are still waiting for the GLO to process their home repair applications more than four and one half years after Hurricane Harvey. Their neighborhoods were also denied funding for desperately needed flood protection as a result of GLO's discriminatory administration of these federal mitigation funds.
Texans who are frustrated and angry with the GLO over the agency's administration of federal disaster funds are heartened by the results of HUD's investigation to decide to hold the GLO accountable. We pray that the GLO moves forward quickly to undo past wrongs and make federal disaster mitigation assistance fairly available to those who most need it.
We urge HUD to expedite their examination of all aspects of GLO's administration of the federal funds that have discriminated against low- and moderate- income communities of color, especially the failure of the GLO to effectively administer billions in federal funds to provide affordable rental housing to Hurricane Harvey survivors.
Most Hurricane Harvey survivors who are renters are people of color. The GLO has massively underfunded reconstruction of rental housing and the housing GLO has funded, generally have rents that are unaffordable to disaster survivors.
The same racial and national origin discrimination that HUD found the GLO engaged in when it administered disaster mitigation funds has also been shouldered by renters of color in the GLO's disaster recovery programs.
We ask that HUD promptly complete its ongoing investigations of civil rights complaints we and others have raised about the City of Houston's failure to equitably provide flood protection and other essential public infrastructure to African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods in the city. HUD's ruling in the matter of GLO's discrimination in disaster mitigation funds is only half of the ongoing discrimination.
We need Houston as well as other Texas cities and counties to act fairly, just as we demand such of our state government.
All we want and what every Texan deserves is for their government to allocate federal funds in a non-discriminatory manner. This has been law since 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was passed.
We thank HUD for their investigation of this case. We are ready to work with HUD and GLO to quickly resolve this matter so Texans can equally and fairly be protected from future disaster.