Hurricane Housing Recovery Updates, Tuesday, October 10, 2017

HURRICANE HOUSING RECOVERY COALITION

On October 10, the Hurricane Housing Recovery Coalition held a congressional briefing on our recommendations for a just, equitable and complete housing recovery from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Chrishelle Palay (Texas Housers), Suzanne Cabrera (Florida Housing Coalition), Patrick Sheridan (Volunteers of America) and Chandra Crawford (NAEH) joined me on a panel to share immediate needs in impacted communities, housing recovery recommendations for Congress and lessons learned from previous disasters. We had very good turnout – over 70 people in attendance, including nearly 60 congressional offices – and an excellent reception to the presentations and recommendations. Thanks to our national partners who showed up to hear from and support local leaders, including colleagues from NFHA, PolicyLink, NRDC, NDRN, Nat’l Coalition for the Homeless, Enterprise, HPN, SAHF and Catholic Charities.

Chrishelle, Suzanne, Pat and Chandra spent the rest of the day, together with Sarah Mickelson and Elayne Weiss of NLIHC, meeting with congressional delegation staff and staff from Appropriations and House Financial Services Committee staff. We’ll share key takeaways and next steps on this week’s call. Many thanks to Chrishelle and Suzanne for traveling to DC, and to them and all the speakers for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their important work with leaders on the Hill.

Congressional Briefing Panel

From left to right: Chandra Crawford, National Alliance to End Homelessness, speaking on lessons learned after Hurricane Katrina; Suzanne Cabrera, Florida Housing Coalition; Chrishelle Palay, Texas Low Income Housing Information Service (Texas Housers); Pat Sheridan,Volunteers of America, speaking on housing needs in Puerto Rico; & Diane Yentel, President and CEO, National Low Income Housing Coalition

Congressional Briefing Panel 3Congressional Briefing Panel 4

CONGRESS

Last week the Texas congressional delegation sent a request to appropriators for an additional $18.7 billion in disaster recovery funding (on top of the recent White House request for $29.3 billion), including $7 billion in CDBG-DR. Over the weekend, the Governor of Puerto Rico sent a letter to appropriators requesting an additional $4.6 billion, including $3.2 billion in CDBG-DR. The Florida delegation (28 out of 29) has requested an additional $26.9 billion, including $7 billion in CDBG-DR. Today, the White House sent Congress an additional disaster spending request: $5B to assist Puerto Rico with disaster recovery. The House may take up a supplemental spending bill this week, but it’s unclear how many of these requests they’ll include in their bill. They are very likely to add some of these additional requests to the original White House request, along with funding to assist with recovery from the devastating wildfires in California.


HURRICANE MARIA

FEMA

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 10/10)

  • 13,836 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $6,922,008 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $3,185 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $6,918,823 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $37,005,952 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.

Free Meals. The Puerto Rico Department of Education is managing 18 sites that serve free breakfast and lunch seven days a week for both students and other survivors.

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.

  • Debris Removal. FEMA is providing more than $10 million in expedited funding to support clean up and remove debris in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Communications Measures. The Department of Defense’s Civil Authorities Information Support Element (CAISE) is helping recovery agencies get vital information to survivors who lack electricity or access to cell towers. CAISE has disseminated messages about registering with FEMA, locating supply stations, and finding Wi-Fi hotspots.

HURRICANE IRMA

 FEMA

 Florida

 By the Numbers: (as of 10/10)

  • 681,295 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $731,095,971 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $487,127,326 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $243,968,645 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

  • November 9 deadline for Individual Assistance. Homeowners and renters who suffered damage as a result of Hurricane Irma have until November 9 to register with FEMA for possible federal disaster assistance.
  • November 5 deadline for Public Assistance. The Florida Division of Emergency Management requests state, local, or tribal governments and certain nonprofit organizations that experienced damage from Hurricane Irma submit their requests for reimbursement by November 5. Requests received by November 5 will be forwarded to FEMA on or before FEMA’s November 10 deadline.
  • Floodplain or historic property restoration activities. FEMA posted an initial public notice concerning activities that may affect historic properties, activities that are located in or affect wetland areas or the 100-year floodplain, and critical actions within the 500-year floodplain.
    • Presidential Executive Orders 11988 and 11990 require that all federal actions in or affecting floodplains or wetlands be reviewed for opportunities to relocate, and be evaluated for social, economic, historical, environmental, legal, and safety considerations. Where there is no opportunity to relocate, FEMA is required to undertake a detailed review to determine measures that can be taken to minimize future damage. The notice sets out four criteria that must be met to determine that there are no alternatives to restoration in the floodplain. The public is invited to participate in the process of identifying alternatives and analyzing their impacts.
    • Housing Individual Assistance (IA) actions may adversely affect a floodplain or wetland, or may result in continuing vulnerability to floods. Actions may include repair, restoration, or construction of housing, purchase and placement of travel trailers or manufactured housing units or repair of structures as minimum protective measures. This is the only public notice concerning these actions.
  • The National Historic Preservation Act requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of their actions on historic properties. Actions or activities affecting buildings, structures, districts, or objects 50 years or older or that affect archeological sites or undisturbed ground will require further review to determine whether the property is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (Register). If the property is determined to be eligible for the Register, and FEMA’s actions will adversely affect it, FEMA will provide additional notices. For historic properties not adversely affected by FEMA’s actions, this will be the only notice.
  • Home Inspections. Home Inspections are an important part of FEMA assessing the type and amount of assistance survivors receive. The estimated wait time for a traditional is thirty days, so FEMA has eliminated some inspections in an effort to streamline the process. This includes those who have no real or personal property damage, but their home is either inaccessible or their essential utilities are temporarily unavailable, as well as those who only have flood damage and already have flood insurance that will cover the damage. FEMA has also provided an FAQ page for those who do need to schedule an inspection.

Georgia

By the Numbers: (as of 10/5)

  • 7,942 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $9,501,024 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $6,657,633 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $2,843,391 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.


HURRICANE HARVEY

FEMA

By the Numbers: (as of 10/10)

  • 319,363 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,040,581,528 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $794,012,800 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $246,568,727 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $327,886,760 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.

  • Extension of TSA. The Transitional Sheltering Assistance program (TSA), which provides funding for survivors to stay at a hotel while searching for housing, has been extended to October 24. The previous deadline was October 10.
  • Public Infrastructure Reimbursement. Texas governmental jurisdictions and nonprofit organizations have until 5 pm on October 31 to submit requests for reimbursement for Hurricane Harvey expenses. Reimbursements are for disaster-related costs for emergency response, debris removal, and permanent work, including repairs or replacements of schools, roads, and other public infrastructure.

 Local Perspectives

  • Texas Organizations’ Letter to Congress. The Texas Low Income Housing Information Service and Texas Appleseed sent a letter to Texas’s congressional delegation in response to a September 21 letter from the delegation to HUD Secretary Ben Carson. The organizations oppose:
    1. Lowering the CDBG programs’ requirement that 70% of the funds benefit low and moderate income households;
    2. Shortening the period for public review of and comment on a state’s CDBG-DR Action Plan from 30 days to seven days; and
    3. Allowing “maximum flexibility” regarding use of CDBG-DR funds among housing, infrastructure, and mitigation without data indicating which activities have the greatest need.
  • D-SNAP Burdensome for Disabled. Lone Star Legal Aid attorneys have contacted the office of Governor Greg Abbott regarding access to D-SNAP application sites for individuals with disabilities. Limited times and locations with no alternative forms of application are unduly burdensome for this community as they cannot always wait in long lines for hours on end. Attorneys have also found that public outreach about the D-SNAP process has been inadequate, that most people at shelters and disaster recovery centers have never heard of D-SNAP.
  • Location of Debris Management Sites. Lone Star Legal Aid reports that Debris Management Site (DMS) has opened near a low-income minority neighborhood in Port Arthur, despite regulations requiring DMS to not be located in areas that could cause harm to schools or neighborhoods, or disrupt local business. Executive Order 12898 from 1994 also requires localities receiving federal funds from a source such as FEMA to evaluate its actions for disproportionately high and adverse effects on minority or low income populations and find ways to avoid or minimize adverse impacts. The site has been operating for over a month, and attorneys at Lone Star Legal Aid have demanded the City of Port Arthur close the DMS as soon as possible.

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