Homeowners Still Waiting For Ike Relief Help

Three years after Hurricane Ike, there are still a number of families in the Houston area living with blue tarps on their homes. Some of those residents took part in a protest at City Hall, claiming they've waited long enough for government help.

"We need these buildings fixed. We need their homes fixed and we can do it. We have people in the community that need jobs…"

(People begin to clap)

That’s community activist Ceola Curley using a megaphone to speak to a crowd gathered at the steps of Houston City Hall.

Many held up signs with pictures of homes damaged by Hurricane Ike. Three years later some of the homes still aren’t fixed despite government  money being available for that purpose. Elvis Malveaux says her home still has water and structural damage.

 "They told me they was gonna fix it this August. August 15th was supposed to be the deadline that I was supposed to know. I went through all the paperwork; I’ve done everything."

This is Ceola Curley again.

"Some of them had minimum amount of insurance, but they didn’t have enough to do the repairs of their homes, so the government said they were going to set the money outside for that purpose. But it hasn’t been used for that, it's been used for other things."

Marc Eichenbaum is the Public Information Officer with the City of Houston's Housing and Community Development Department and says they’re working to fix as many homes as they can as quickly as possible. While FEMA gave out relief and repair money immediately after the hurricane, he says Houston didn’t get money until last December.

Marc Eichenbaum
Marc Eichenbaum is the Public Information Officer with the City of Houston's Housing and Community Development Department

"So in just 9 months, the city has over 70 homes that are either under construction, or that are already completed. We are thrilled with the progress we’ve made and we’re going to working as fast as possible to get these funds spent in responsible fashion."

Slowing the process even further is the application and approval process for home repair money.

"It is a long and lengthy process. In fact, at times it can be more difficult than getting a mortgage for your house".

The protesters planned to enter city hall and speak to the mayor and council members a the city council  public session.

"...[I]s everybody ready to tell mayor Parker what we want?"

"Yes!"

Eichenbaum says the mayor is well aware of the problem, but maintains the city is moving as fast as it can.