A look inside Houston’s Homeowner Assistance Program 2 years after Harvey

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It’s been two years since Hurricane Harvey hit and still thousands of people are working to get back into their homes.

The city of Houston’s Harvey recovery program received money from the federal government to help homeowners do just that,  but the process to get the money has not been as simple as you’d hope.

Houston’s Homeowner Assistance Program, also known as HoAP, is focused on reconstruction, rehabilitation and reimbursement for homeowners within the city limits of Houston.

The first step is to take a survey to see if you qualify.

“Our focus, primary focus is on the most vulnerable Houstonians. Those who are below 80% AMI,” explained Sharon Washington, the newly appointed senior recovery division staffer.

AMI stands for average median income, however, Washington wants to make it clear that the program is for everyone.

Still, thousands have applied for the funds and Washington says it’s going to take some time to distribute. Recovery has been a learning process for the city, too.

“The process is so huge that we didn’t have any models, so we were building the model from scratch,” Washington said.

She admits the process is complicated for homeowners because of all the regulations and paperwork, so they are working to streamline the process.

“There’s valid frustration that has happened, which is also why I am in this position, to come in and unclog those places where frustrations are building up,” Washington explained.

She says her team is there to help at every step along the way and promises that progress is being made.

“Everyone understands that the most important thing that we do is get homeowners back into their homes,” she said.

So far, around 19,000 surveys have been submitted. Of those, 4,919 people have been invited to apply for HoAP and 2,284 applications have been completed. As of the end of August 2019, 15 homeowners have been served.

Click here for a breakdown of each stage of the process. City officials say these statistics will be updated monthly.

If you’d like to see if you’re eligible for any of these funds, head to the city’s Harvey recovery website. There you can  take a survey to determine if there are any programs you qualify for.

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