Hurricanes, Thursday, October 5, 2017

Congress

  • Congressional Briefing. The Hurricane Housing Recovery Coalition will conduct a Congressional Briefing on Tuesday, October 10 at 10:00 am ET. The briefing will be held in room SVC 210 of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, First St. NE, Washington, DC. After providing an update on federal housing recovery efforts in their communities, the panelists will discuss recommendations – endorsed by more than 500 national, state, and local organizations and governments – on immediate steps that Congress, FEMA, and HUD can take to ensure that federal housing recovery efforts reach the lowest income – and most vulnerable – households, who are often the hardest-hit by disasters and have the fewest resources to recover afterwards. The panelists are:
    • Suzanne Cabrera, Board of Directors, Florida Housing Coalition, and President and CEO, Housing Leadership Council of Palm Beach County
    • Chrishelle Palay, Houston Co-Director, Texas Low Income Housing Information Service (Texas Housers)
    • Pat Sheridan, Executive Vice President for Housing, Volunteers of America, speaking on housing needs in Puerto Rico
    • Chandra Crawford, Program and Policy Analyst, National Alliance to End Homelessness, speaking on lessons learned after Hurricane Katrina
    • Diane Yentel, President and CEO, National Low Income Housing Coalition
  • Hearing Request. Eleven Democrat Members of the House of Representatives sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee. The Members request a hearing to explore how financial, real estate, and insurance firms can best respond to disaster recovery in a fashion that is quick and fair. The Members are concerned about excessive paperwork and recovery delays due to firms’ fear of fraud. The signatories request hearing witnesses from finance and insurance to discuss policies to avoid causing families from incurring excessive debt leading to insolvency or eviction from rental homes.

HUD

  • Public Housing and Voucher Waiver Notice. HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) published a pre-publication version of a notice that will be in the Federal Register on October 6, listing regulatory and administrative waivers it will consider if requested by public housing agencies (PHAs) in areas officially designated by the Major Disaster Declarations (MDD) following Hurricanes, Harvey, Irma, and Maria. PHAs may also request waivers not listed in the Federal Register. HUD will expedite all waiver requests by providing concurrent HUD Headquarters and Field Office reviews; typically, waiver requests are first submitted to the Field Office and subsequently reviewed by Headquarters. All approved waiver requests will be published in the Federal Register, identifying the PHAs receiving the approvals.

The Federal Register notice lists 20 potential waivers, half of which are only important to PHA staff, such as extending the time to submit financial audits or undertake energy audits. There are, however, ten potential waivers that might be important to residents and advocates:

  1. Allow a voucher exception payment standard of up to 150% of the Fair Market Rent (FMR); the regular exception payment standard is 110% FMR.
  2. Allow occupancy of more than two persons per room, provided the assisted household consents.
  3. Instead of requiring public notice in a newspaper when a PHA is preparing to open its voucher waiting list, allow a PHA to provide notice via its website, voicemail, or posting at its offices. HUD reminds PHAs to consider the fair housing implications of alternative notification measures, keeping in mind difficulties various approaches might cause for people with disabilities or limited English proficiency. PHAs will still be required to provide notice in minority media.
  4. Extend to 90 days, the timeframe to request “secondary verification” of immigration status from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  5. Provide a number of exceptions related to demolition and/or disposition. There are five such waivers that warrant careful consideration by advocates.

The notice also lists three “flexibilities” applicable to the MDD PHAs, and four potential waivers pertaining to the Indian Housing Block Grant and the Indian Community Development Block Grant programs.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

OMB Recovery Estimates. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney released Memorandum M-18-01 requesting federal agencies to submit budget estimates for hurricane recovery support. Agencies have until October 25 to submit estimates and request to OMB. 

Other Organizations

  • Hurricane Support for Seniors Hotline. National Church Residences and LeadingAge have established a hotline for people over the age of 55 to answer disaster-related questions and make a referral.  The toll-free number is 844-259-4747, and a web form is available at seniorhotline.org. In addition, the two organizations ask those with available housing to notify them at senior help@nationalchurchresidences.org, indicating the name of the community or housing, address, rent amount, and willingness to provide short-term housing.
  • Grants to NeighborWorks Organizations. NeighborWorks America awarded 20 organizations in communities affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria with grants totaling $800,000. The nonprofits will use the grants to help meet any emerging on-the-ground needs, such as cleaning up properties, providing supplies to affected households, coordinating disaster response with other partners, supporting mobile intake centers, and rehab and repair efforts.

HURRICANE MARIA

FEMA

U.S. Virgin Islands

By the Numbers: (unchanged from 10/2)

  • $10,510,000 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) dollars obligated**

**Funds made available to the State via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (unchanged from 10/3)

  • 13,832 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $6,916,000 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $6,916,000 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.


HURRICANE IRMA 

FEMA

Florida

By the Numbers: (as of 10/5)

  • 674,032 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $695,625,385 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $457,323,328 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $238,302,057 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

Georgia

By the Numbers: (as of 10/5)

  • 7,764 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $8,713,974 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $5,991,633 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $2,722,340 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

Local Perspectives

Empty Trailers. FEMA travel trailers that can be used as temporary housing sit empty in Key West even though an estimated 10,000 residents in the Florida Keys were left homeless by the storm. FEMA sees the trailers as a last resort since they need to be hooked up to electricity and other utilities.


HURRICANE HARVEY

FEMA

By the Numbers: (as of 10/5)

  • 307,913 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $896,844,108 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $669,955,793 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $226,888,314 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $323,886,760 Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated** all of which are for Emergency Work (Categories A-B)

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

** Funds made available to the State via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

TSA Resource App. FEMA has created an app that allows survivors in the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program easily find participating hotels in any part of the country. TSA provides hotel subsidies for those still looking for housing. 

Local Perspectives

  • Long Lines for D-SNAP. Thousands of people lined up to apply for Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (D-SNAP). After people waited in long lines on Monday, some having waited in line overnight, many were not able to submit applications because police dispersed the applicants because several individuals became unruly. Lines formed again on Tuesday as people stood in the rain to apply for D-SNAP, which can provide food assistance for up to two months.
  • Social Vulnerability Maps. Oxfam utilized data on social vulnerability and hurricane impacts (both flooding and wind damage) to create maps showing how various communities were affected by Hurricane Harvey. The data is down to the census tract level and is grouped by congressional district. Oxfam released a report as well as the interactive maps.

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