Harris County’s Home Buyout Program Improves Regional Flood Control

For more than 30 years, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) has relied on home buyout programs to remove homes from floodways and floodplains. Today, the projects started years before are finally paying off.

In November, Texas General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush, Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle, and Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis toured past and present buyout locations with HCFCD Executive Director Russ Poppe and Harris County Community Services Director Daphne Lemelle.

The tour included stops in the Gatewood buyout area, the largest buyout area in Harris County, and Glen Forest Basin, a stormwater detention basin and former buyout area now under construction. When complete, the Glen Forest Basin, along with Kuykendahl Basin, will reduce the risk of flooding for more than 1,100 structures along Greens Bayou.

“We call it the Glen Forest Detention Basin because part of it used to be the Glen Forest subdivision,” said Poppe. “There were about 115 homes located here that were constructed back in the 1950s. Because of where they were located and the elevation at which they were constructed, they had a propensity to flood on a frequent basis.”

During the tour, officials emphasized how homeowner buyouts and infrastructure projects continue to reduce flood-risk throughout the county.

“Just a year and a few months ago, this was under water,” said Commissioner Cagle about Glen Forest Basin. “What we’re trying to do is make sure that when the storms of life come upon us, we can keep folks safe and dry.”

To assist residents who believe they cannot afford to participate in the buyout program, HCFCD and Harris County Community Services (HCCS) are teaming up to provide additional resources, including a moving stipend, replacement housing incentives, social vulnerability incentives, and pre-storm market value on their home.

Officials encouraged interested residents affected by flooding in 2015, 2016, and Hurricane Harvey to contact Harris County Flood Control District. Residents who qualify for a buyout but need additional financial assistance can contact Harris County Community Services.

For more information on the Harris County Disaster Recovery Voluntary Buyout Program, click here.

“The Harris County Community Services Department, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s priority is to help low-to-moderate income areas,” said Poppe. “This effort demonstrates how the mission and priorities of multiple organizations at the federal, state, and local levels can intersect for the benefit of covering communities and improve long-term resiliency.”