What city leaders did today in their weekly meeting

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Houston city council members approved $100 million in new insurance policies for the city to protect it against future flooding Wednesday.

The move was necessary because the city used up its existing insurance due to Harvey, the mayor has said previously.

Claims against the city's insurance was expected to total nearly $200 million, the city's limit for claims. That would leave the city without insurance for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Affordable housing

Council members spent a good deal of time discussing the appropriation of $46 million for the city's affordable housing program.

Members wanted any new construction to be built in areas that won't flood, asking for assurances from the city's housing department that the money would be spent wisely.

City properties that housed low-income and seniors were flooded during Harvey.

"We cannot fund for failure," Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

Planning commission discussing changes to permitting

In a move that would otherwise deserve few words in print, nine members of the city's planning commission were appointed or reappointed Wednesday.

Those members are charged with looking at what is built and where across Houston, now in the spotlight after the widespread flooding.

While the city has no zoning laws, builders are still required to comply with a number of rules, including where water goes on a piece of property when it rains. The decisions made by the board have widespread impact across the city.

"We can't do things the same way," Turner said. "We need to build a more resilient city."

Members of the commission approved today said they will be addressing some of the city's rules about drainage in future meetings.

Councilmember questions non-Harvey spending

Councilmember Mike Knox asked Turner to hold off on spending $852,000 on a contract for homework assistance services, making the point that the individual education systems provide the same service. Turner had previously said that it was important to scrutinize all non-Harvey spending, Knox said.

Turner had sent a letter to city departments Sept. 13 asking all spending be watched "judiciously" and to hold off on all non-essential spending.

The program's contract provides live homework assistance services for three years with two one-year options. It expired at the end of August.

Council member Stardig questioned why the city allowed the contract to expire before the storm came in the first place, she said.

Knox wanted to wait to spend the money until the city had a better handle on Harvey-related spending, he said.

"I just want to know we're spending the money wisely," councilmember Steve Le said, in support of examining the item further.

Knox's motion to send the item back to administration failed.

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