HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Thursday that he's offended by the state's plan to take control of more than $1 billion in federal funds allocated to the city for Hurricane Harvey housing relief as America grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas General Land Commissioner George P. Bush sent Turner a letter on Wednesday announcing the agency's plan to partly strip the city's power over the Harvey recovery money. The move awaits approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which originally dispersed the subsidies to the state and Bush's office.

For previous natural disasters, the office spearheaded recovery efforts, but after Harvey, Houston and Harris County were granted authority to control their own programs. Houston officials said 16,291 people expressed interest in the city’s Homeowner Assistance Program. Yet, Houston has only distributed 44 reimbursement checks, completed 17 home reconstructions and completed 19 home overhauls, according to a city report released last month.

The Texas General Land Office, managing its own Harvey recovery aid program, had completed construction on 1,039 homes as of April 17. The agency said it has already called thousands of Houston residents who applied for aid through the city’s program to start moving their applications forward.

Turner called the plan “hostile,” contending that the agency is working from home remotely and “being handsomely paid" out of the money that's supposed to be for people’s housing renovations and reconstruction.

“What really has irked me, in the midst of the coronavirus, when the focus is keeping everybody safe, all hands have been on deck, GLO is sending out this notice,” Turner said Thursday morning during a press briefing at a mask distribution site. “Will someone please tell the state that there is a virus here that’s very deadly?”

Bush also indicated that the agency would ask HUD for permission to take over the city's largest program, a more than $400 million effort to restore or replace single-family homes damaged in the storm.

Turner said the agency's actions are politically motivated and promised to take “all necessary legal steps” to fight it. He added that the General Land Office team sent a letter Friday saying it was satisfied with the city’s actions.

However, Brittany Eck, a spokeswoman for the agency, said its letter clearly states its review of Houston's performance demonstrated “the lack of timely expenditures" and that the city isn't on track to give out the money by the August 2024 deadline.