Councilwoman at-Large Stacy Head deferred a vote Thursday on an $11.8 million home elevation grant program, calling the program a “boondoggle” and demanding an updated list of the 48 participating homes.

“We have a lot of things to watch out for in government. Our jobs require us to pay attention to a million different things,” Head said, explaining the delay. “And frankly, I am so thankful to members of our public, Janet Hays, and to our media to alerting us to a failure on, I think our part and on, frankly the administration’s part in focusing on this as much as we should.”

She said the ordinances will be discussed at length in an upcoming Housing and Human Needs Committee meeting.*

“We’ve got to find out some basics, such as, number one, what are the actual dollars? Number two, what are the real criteria? Number three, what are the goals of this program? Number four, what is the process and who are the decision makers in the process?” she said.

She added that the federal Privacy Act does not apply to grantees’ personal information, which both city and FEMA officials told The Lens.

“To say that is is a problem is an understatement. If the information relayed to us in an article in The Lens is accurate, this is a boondoggle of a program that is not being run in a way that largely benefits our city and is incredibly costly to the taxpayers,” Head said. “Having $200,000, $300,000, $400,000 to raise properties, that appears to be so incredibly wasteful.”

The grants were scheduled for a full vote at the next regular council meeting on July 25.

*Correction: The original story said the matter would be discussed at a meeting Monday. In fact, the issue will be discussed at a future committee meeting, though the particular date hasn’t yet been set.

Charles Maldonado

Charles Maldonado is the editor of The Lens. He previously worked as The Lens' government accountability reporter, covering local politics and criminal justice. Prior to joining The Lens, he worked for...