Five Houston-area congressmen are urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to accept Houston’s idea of using volunteer hours as an alternate way to pay the city’s required local match for federal disaster grants.
The letter sent Tuesday to FEMA Administrator Brock Long is signed by U.S. Reps. John Culberson (R-Houston), Brian Babin (R-Woodville), Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land), Gene Green (D-Houston) and Al Green (D-Houston).
“We are supportive of a creative, broad interpretation of FEMA rules to begin implementing this volunteer initiative, and are also interested in hearing from you if you believe that changes to federal law may be needed to make it easier for FEMA to put the city of Houston’s proposal into action,” the letter says. “Moving forward to implement this innovative, community-focused initiative will demonstrate the administration’s commitment to helping the people of Texas rebuild after the most devastating rain event our nation has ever experienced.”
FEMA already allows the city to count volunteer hours and donated materials toward the 10 percent local cost share for some recovery activities, but Houston has asked the agency to broaden that authority.
FEMA said last month it was reviewing Houston’s proposal.