SAVE JOBS AND EMPOWER PEOPLE! EXTEND HURRICANE IKE SOCIAL SERVICES BLOCK GRANT
Messages Sent So Far
September 20, 2010
Dear President Obama and Member of Congress:
In late 2008 Congress appropriated funds to assist with recovery from natural disasters occurring in 2008, including Hurricane Ike. Congress included $600 million for Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) disaster recovery funds and in early 2009 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services allocated about $219 million to Texas. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission in turn allocated $93 million to the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) for distribution to health and social service agencies in the region. SSBG funds can be used to reimburse health and social service agencies for damage due to Hurricane Ike, or can fund ongoing services such as mental health counseling, minor home repair and other social services to Hurricane Ike victims. This funding also provided Social Service Block grants funds to citizens in 20 other states including Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Florida and Missouri.
H-GAC has funded over 40 different agencies to provide services in the region including many in Galveston, Harris & Brazoria Counties while SETRP received $14 Million for programs in Southeast Texas and LRGVDC received $9.9 Million for recovery programs in the Rio Grande Valley. These agencies anticipate serving 40,000 individuals and families. Unfortunately, it takes months for funds to get from the federal level to local programs. In addition, it takes time for local programs to gear up to serve Ike victims. As it stands, the State?s
authorization to expend these funds expires on September 30, 2010. This deadline is statutory. H-GAC anticipates having significant unexpended funds available by the current deadline. However, recovery from a disaster like Hurricane Ike can take years, as shown by Hurricane Katrina and by the region?s own experience with Ike. H-GAC alone anticipates having $40 to $45 Million in unexpended funds available by the current deadline. Therefore, participating social service organizations and citizens of the affected recommend that we request Congressional and Presidential support for obtaining an extension of the period during which SSBG disaster recovery funds may be obligated. A similar extension was granted for Hurricane Katrina SSBG disaster recovery funds. This extension will not add to the federal deficit.
By my signature hereto, I urgently join the participating social service organizations to request Congressional and Presidential support for Senate Bill 3774 granting an extension of the period for expending Social Services Block Grant disaster recovery funds to serve Hurricane Ike victims before authorization to use the funds expires on September 30, 2010.
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