City gets big check for renovations

June 4, 2009 3:16:00 PM PDT
The city of Houston got a big check Thursday to help repair apartments damaged by Hurricane Ike. More than a dozen complexes are scheduled to be repaired with the money, including several near the intersection of Fondren and West Belfort in southwest Houston

Nine months after Hurricane Ike, blue-roofed apartment complexes still dot the Houston landscape, but not where Latandria Lane and her family live.

"I feel a lot safer with me and my family being here," she said. "We don't have to be worried about anyone messing with us or calling in because they hear loud music or doing something they're not supposed to."

Lane and her family live in an apartment complex that was renovated with federal hurricane dollars. The program began during Hurricane Katrina, but now has finally expanded to apartments damaged by Hurricane Ike. On Thursday, the state delivered an $87 million check to the city.

"We want to add apartment units by rehabbing the apartments that we have right now," said Houston Mayor Bill White. "We get more bang for the buck that way rather than build new apartments."

The majority of the money will help rehabilitate 14 apartment complexes throughout the city, including Creekbend apartments, where roof repairs are long overdue.

"I thought FEMA and them should have picked that up by now," said resident Ross Stevens. "Hurricane season's back again."

The pace of the federal funding has also frustrated Mayor White, who says the city is still owed millions in hurricane relief.

"There's too many cooks in the kitchen, too many layers of HUD, too many layers of government," he said.

But when repairs are done, it could have life-changing effects. Just ask the Lane family, who are feeling safer today.

"It's had trying to find a decent, nice apartment in the price range for you," said Latandria.

The city says it's been asking for applications, trying to find the proper complexes to do all these upgrades. They're hoping the federal money will come in quickly.

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