More than 18 months after Hurricane Harvey devastated Victoria County, new affordable housing is on the horizon.

On Tuesday, the Victoria County Long-Term Recovery Group and partners announced they plan to build a $4.6 million, 40-house subdivision in Bloomington for Victoria County residents still struggling to recover after Hurricane Harvey.

“When you have a lot of people in the room, leaders who are looking to serve others, it’s inspiring to see how many people in our community care for others,” said Mark Longoria, Long-Term Recovery Group president and deputy district director for Congressman Michael Cloud. “How can we help people who have been devastated and are not able to get back on their feet? That is our whole mission.”

A portion of those resources, a $1.4 million grant from Samaritan’s Purse, is being used to purchase land and begin building infrastructure for the subdivision, Hope Meadows. The subdivision will occupy 21 acres near the corner of Seventh and Leonard streets in Bloomington and, when completed, will be the first subdivision in the community. The organizations plan to begin building the infrastructure in May and start construction of the houses by mid-October.

The organizations working with the Long-Term Recovery Group for the past eight months to make this project a reality are a combination of national, faith-based nonprofits and local nonprofits and businesses. They include the Mennonite Disaster Service, Disaster Aid Ohio, Civil Corp, Cullen Law Firm and First Community Bank of Victoria, among others.

The $2 million in labor to build the houses, which is being donated by Mennonite Disaster Service, is not included in the overall $4.6 million figure. The nonprofit network of churches helps communities in the United States and Canada recover after disasters.

“MDS welcomes the opportunity to partner with the VCLTRG in the Hope Meadows project,” said Tom Smucker, Mennonite Disaster Services Response coordinator in a news release. “It is always good to see multiple partners come together for the good of a community.”

The homes will be constructed from wood and HardiePlank siding on 60-by-100-foot lots. They will range in size from just under 1,000 square feet to 1,100 square feet for two bedroom/one bath, three bedroom/one bath and three bedroom/two bath models.

“The Mennonites have been building in Bloomington and have replaced a lot of homes already, about six homes for families, and their homes are well-built and sturdy,” Longoria said. “Their homes are known for their craftsmanship.”

Initial FEMA assessments broadly cited that more than 19,000 households in Victoria County were affected by Hurricane Harvey, and the Long-Term Recovery Group has continued to thoroughly investigate and report the needs of those families and help them, said Rick Villa, development coordinator for the Long-Term Recovery Group.

“We have hundreds of families still in dire need, and they are working with case managers and being patient with recovery,” Villa said.

The Long-Term Recovery Group employs four full-time case managers working at maximum capacity with 35 cases each, in addition to whatever cases their supervisor is able to handle. The case managers at the other three Disaster Case Management offices, including St. Vincent de Paul, Rio Texas Conference and Lutheran Social Services, also are working at maximum capacity with 35 cases each. As they meet the needs of one family and close the case, they open another, Villa said.

Applicants for the homes must show they can pay the property taxes and insurance premiums to qualify for the five-year forgivable notes that will be offered to residents in Hope Meadows.

Applications will be available to Victoria County residents beginning May 20 at the Long-Term Recovery Group office, 207 N. Glass St., and on its website, victorialtrg.org, as well as the other Disaster Case Management offices.

“This is a long-awaited answer to a prayer by many Hurricane Harvey survivors waiting for a new start in their life,” Villa said. “Hope Meadows definitely will be an answer to many prayers and assist many families.”

Elena Anita Watts covers arts, culture and entertainment for the Victoria Advocate.

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