Harvey recovery funds may prioritize wealthy, advocates say

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Advocacy groups say Texas is poised to unfairly distribute $5-plus billion in federal funding provided for housing repairs following Hurricane Harvey — prioritizing wealthy homeowners over poorer victims in ways that could constitute racial discrimination.

A draft state rebuilding plan says homeowners may only be eligible for federal assistance, regardless of income, if they suffered $8,000 in damages. The renters’ threshold is $2,000.

A coalition led by Austin-based Texas Housers says that excludes low- and middle-income households from more than $1 billion in housing repair aid.

At a news conference Friday, the groups said Harvey victims in 20 largely black and Hispanic areas in Houston and elsewhere are most likely to be excluded — raising civil rights concerns.

Texas says the federal government sets relief thresholds that can’t be changed.

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