As thousands of Houston homeowners struggle to recover months after Hurricane Harvey, the debate rages on as to whether homes in areas vulnerable to flooding should be rebuilt at all.
City and state officials are reportedly currently making buyout offers to some homeowners, while real estate investment firms are offering as little as $.40 on the dollar to refurbish damaged homes.
Meanwhile, according to a Wall Street Journal report, some properties in Houston are flooded so often, they received multiple payouts from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP); one Kingwood home reportedly received nearly $1.8 million in payouts from the federally funded program between 1979 to 2015 to rebuild their home multiple times.
The report also revealed, even before the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida, the NFIP is running in the red.
In recent years, payouts on flood insurance policies reportedly exceeded the premiums paid by policy holders; since 2000, the NFIP paid out more than $47 billion in claims.
The program is also said to owe the U.S. Treasury $24.6 billion prior to Harvey and Irma, a number which, according to experts, is expected to rise after the claims from these recent storms are taken into account.
That said, many of the affected properties are eligible for a buyout from federally funded programs, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency:
Per the conditions of the agency, homeowners must voluntarily agree to the buyout, which allows officials to raze the home; however, as the WSJ report shows, these homeowners may either get more from their flood insurance claims, or they may not get enough from the buyout to finance a move to a less flood-prone area.
In the meantime, according to documents, Houston City Council is considering a proposal to place 800 single-family homes near a 100-year flood plain on the city’s west side, sending the proposal to Mayor Sylvester Turner for review on Wednesday.
If the project goes forward, according to the plan, these homes would be eligible for flood insurance.
That is, of course, assuming the program is still solvent when the homes are ready.
Stay tuned, Houston.