Residents repairing their homes after Hurricane Harvey could see relief through the state’s housing program.

Victor Torres, an 82-year-old Victoria resident, already has had his home rebuilt weeks after qualifying for the Homeowner Assistance Program. But not everyone has received the message, said Dolly Stokes with the Victoria County Long-Term Recovery Group.

Local officials are urging all homeowners affected by Harvey, regardless of income, to apply for the program administered by the General Land Office.

Trey Bahm with the GLO said only 144 applications from Victoria County have been submitted during the past seven weeks. There’s an office near Howell Middle School where people can get help with their application. Stokes said the long-term recovery group has been trying to spread the word and is handing out sheets with the document checklist.

Meanwhile, she said the group has continued to assist survivors, reaching almost $2 million in materials and assistance since the hurricane.

The Unmet Needs Committee, which meets every week to review cases with disaster case managers and funders, has allocated $1.73 million in assistance on 422 cases since it formed just more than a year ago.

Of those cases, 382 came from Victoria County, while 40 involved hurricane-affected families living in neighboring counties.

“They told me that after the first year, this room would probably be empty,” said Chairman Mark Longoria at the first long-term recovery group meeting since November. “I’m glad that you’re still here because it shows that you’re committed to helping people with their recovery.”

Long-term recovery group meets

Michael Ada, of the Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission, talks to the Victoria County Long-Term Recovery Group in January about seven families still living in temporary FEMA mobile homes after Hurricane Harvey.

Local officials, charity directors, social service agency representatives, construction project managers and case managers met for just more than an hour for an update on progress made since the August 2017 storm. The Mennonite Disaster Services reported it has more than 30 volunteers lined up to work every week in the Bloomington area.

Project Director Mike Stuckey said the group is currently working on five homes and welcomes anybody to come work with them. Rick Navarro, with Workforce Solutions Golden Crescent, said Crossroads residents out of work because of the hurricane should visit the office at 120 South Main St., Suite 110, to find out if they are eligible for employment through a special grant program.

“We’re still putting folks to work,” he said.

The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 22 at Gulf Bend Center, 6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100.

Laura Garcia is the Features Editor for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at lgarcia@vicad.com or 361-580-6585.

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Features Editor

Laura has covered health and nonprofits in the Crossroads since 2014. She's also mom to a toddler, loves journalism conferences and is a big fan of sci-fi and crime TV.

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