I still see a lot of roof damage around town post-Ike. Worse, I see relatively new houses in effed buyer neighborhoods with nothing but the tar paper keeping out the water. It's been a very dry winter, which has been the only saving grace for the people living in these houses.
The blue roofs of September are starting to fray. We know that many of these people should have had proper home insurance, or maybe their insurance companies are stalling. It's tough for a lot of families to come up with $7,000-$10,000 to have the roof replaced. But once the water gets in it's game over. Houses are abandoned, the neighborhood suffers, property taxes decline.
I think the state and county should embark upon a new, non-FEMA Tarp Program and do it immediately before more damage occurs as the typical heavy spring and summer rains return. This time they need to go out on the streets and seek out these owners. It only costs a couple hundred bucks per house to do this, and not only will it help out struggling families, in the long run it will help preserve the property tax base.
Budget issues? No problem. I'd immediately eliminate the Harris County Department of Education, which is a $15 million annual expense to local taxpayers. This bureaucracy does literally nothing except eat our money and duplicates what is already done by the local ISDs. With that money we could protect about 35,000 homes from the elements until the owners can get back on their feet.