Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Monday, October 30, 2017

Data and Information Compiled by NLIHC

 NLIHC Blog Highlights Early Findings from FEMA Data. FEMA released preliminary summary data for Hurricane Harvey that include ZIP code-level information on the number of registrants for assistance from FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP). NLIHC released a blog post that highlights some early findings from the data. To date, 872,848 registrants have applied for assistance, 50% of whom are renters. Forty-seven percent of these renters live in neighborhoods with a poverty rate of at least 20%, and 37% of these renters likely have income less than $25,000. The blog notes that while homeowners have experienced a large share of home damage, many renters are likely to be of low socioeconomic status, negatively impacting their ability to cope with and recover from the disaster.

HUD-Assisted Housing in Disaster Areas. At the request of a Senator, NLIHC compiled a table of HUD-assisted housing units by HUD program and by state in the disaster areas from 2017 hurricanes.

Doc1October 30 Summary of Known FEMA and SBA Deadlines. NLIHC has updated its summary of known application deadlines, presented by program type, such as Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA), Individual Assistance (IA), SBA Low Interest Loans, etc. It is still unclear when the deadline to apply for IA is for Puerto Rico. NLIHC has inquired through a congressional office and will share an update when one is available.


CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

FEMA

 By the Numbers: (as of 10/30)

  • 3,482 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $6,491,684 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $4,138,372 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $2,353,311 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.


HURRICANE MARIA

FEMA

 Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 10/30)

  • 223,905 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $122,342,988 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $18,398,353 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $103,944,635 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $409,053,433 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated, all 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.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 10/16)

  • 375,264 referrals
  • 246,387 pending applications
  • 31 withdrawn
  • 13,296 ineligible

U.S. Virgin Islands

By the Numbers: (as of 10/30)

  • 2,858 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $2,335,523 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $603,786 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $1,731,737 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $16,547,917 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated, all 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.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 10/16)

  • 8,788 referrals
  • 6,393 pending applications
  • 2 withdrawn
  • 513 ineligible

 

  • TSA Available for Puerto Rico. Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) is available to Puerto Ricans unable to return to their homes due to Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Transitional Sheltering Assistance allows eligible applicants to shelter in a hotel or motel, for a limited period of time, as a FEMA pays all costs for rooms and taxes through direct payments to participating hotels and motels.
  • For those currently on Puerto Rico:
  • Consistent with the Governor’s request, FEMA will prioritize placements for those currently residing in emergency shelters.
  • FEMA provides transportation to select locations in the Continental United States, where people will be connected with support services and lodging.
  • Transportation also will be provided people to return to Puerto Rico.
  • Additional Housing Options Available. FEMA announced a variety of housing programs in addition to the TSA program for residents of Puerto Rico. Among the housing programs available are:
    • Tu Hogar Renace (Your Home Reborn): Managed by the government of Puerto Rico, a homeowner’s primary residence may be eligible for necessary repairs to return the home to safe, habitable, and functional conditions. Work includes repairs to keep roofs from leaking, replacement of damaged windows and doors, repairs to damaged walls, and water heaters.
    • Direct Lease: Vacant units are leased by FEMA and are used as temporary housing for disaster survivors. FEMA pays the rent for these units. Utility costs and other expenses not covered in the lease are the responsibility of the household.
    • Multi-Family Lease and Repair (MLR): FEMA identifies and prepares existing, vacant rental properties to house survivors in multi-family residential units. Vacant units are leased by FEMA and are used as temporary housing for disaster survivors. FEMA pays the rent for these units. Utility costs and other expenses are the responsibility of the disaster survivor.

Local Perspective

  • Governor Rosselló Requests TSA. In a letter dated October 25 to the FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer linked in a news article published by Bloomberg News, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló asks FEMA to approve Temporary Sheltering Assistance (TSA) to provide residents with temporary hotel vouchers. The letter states that Hurricane Maria destroyed more than 300,000 homes and damaged much more. Governor Rosselló said that “many of our citizens face the daunting task of finding a safe place for their families to stay at a time when there is a severe shortage of housing options due to the catastrophic disaster.” He notes the importance of Puerto Ricans remaining or returning to the island as critical to its recovery and says that “any government assistance should not encourage people to relocate permanently.” As such, the Governor requested:
    • TSA be made available for a period not to exceed 60 days or until additional on-island housing resources become available;
    • FEMA authorizes assistance through the Individual and Household Program to contribute to the cost of repatriating residents who have left to better enable them to return before the expiration of the TSA program;
    • FEMA immediately activate the STEP program to deliver temporary repair assistance for those whose homes can be quickly repaired so that they can return home sooner. (The Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Pilot Program was designed by FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and was primarily intended to provide essential power to affected residences, thereby reducing the demand for other shelter options and allowing individuals to return to or remain in their home. However, STEP is also intended to enable residents to return to or remain in their homes as a form of shelter while permanent repairs are completed, thereby reducing the number of individuals in congregate shelters or in the Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) Program.);
    • FEMA immediately approve permanent or semi-permanent housing construction assistance so that residents can move quickly with FEMA assistance to reconstruct their homes and return to Puerto Rico.
    • FEMA and other federal agencies move their personnel out of hotels and apartments in alternative housing locations such as ships or government-developed base camps.

After receiving the letter, HUD, FEMA and staff from the White House met on Friday to discuss next steps in meeting the housing needs of Puerto Rican’s both on and off the island. Over 70,000 people have left Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit, and tens of thousands more are expected to move to the mainland. Friday’s meeting was to consider a number of potential options including mass evacuation opportunities via cruise ships and the TSA program to give people hotel vouchers for short term stays on or off Puerto Rico. HUD’s Disaster Housing Assistance Program was also discussed.


HURRICANE IRMA

FEMA

Florida

 By the Numbers: (as of 10/30)

  • 720,588 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $860,810,893 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $588,495,090 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $272,315,803 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 10/16)

  • 1,799,790 referrals
  • 697,467 pending applications
  • 23,922 withdrawn
  • 431,760 ineligible
  • Application Extended. The deadline for Hurricane Irma survivors to register for FEMA individual disaster assistance has been extended to November 24. This assistance can include money for rental assistance, essential home repairs, personal property losses, and other disaster-related needs.
  • Residents in Four Counties Eligible for Direct Lease Assistance. Households in Collier, Hendry, Lee, and Monroe counties whose homes are now uninhabitable may be presented a Direct Lease option. FEMA provides temporary housing directly to households when rental resources are unavailable. A direct lease can be arranged for units in apartments or multi-family residential buildings. Each unit will contain complete facilities for cooking, eating, and sanitation. All utilities, and cable, if provided, are included in the rent. Units will be within reasonable access to community services such as accessible public transportation, schools, fire and emergency services, grocery stores, etc.
  • Residents in Four Counties Eligible for Travel Trailers. Households in Collier, Hendry, Lee, and Monroe counties whose primary residence is uninhabitable as a direct result of damage from Hurricane Irma may receive Direct Temporary Housing Assistance from FEMA, which may be in the form of travel trailers. Households cannot apply directly for Direct Housing; FEMA will call if a household is eligible. Households with no other options for temporary housing may be eligible for direct housing in the form of a travel trailer on a month-to-month basis for up to 6 months. Applicants must search for long-term housing options. Every 30 days FEMA evaluates each applicant’s eligibility to remain in the unit.
  • Damaged Cars May Be Covered by ONA. Repairs to vehicles damaged by Hurricane Irma may be covered by FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance (ONA) program if the damage is not covered by insurance or SBA.

 Georgia

 By the Numbers: (as of 10/30)

  • 8,792 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $11,671,921 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $8,463,963 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $3,207,958 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 10/16)

  • 26,420 referrals
  • 12,766 pending applications
  • 437 withdrawn
  • 5,727 ineligible
  • Additional Counties Approved for Assistance. DeKalb and Haralson counties are now eligible to receive federal assistance for permanent work funding under the Public Assistance program. This allows state and local governments to be reimbursed for at least 75% of the costs of infrastructure repair.

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 10/30)

  • 733 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,715,026 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $891,345 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $823,680 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 10/16)

  • 2,262 referrals
  • 1,263 pending applications
  • 35 withdrawn
  • 446 ineligible

U.S. Virgin Islands

 By the Numbers: (as of 10/30)

  • 3,461 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $4,655,000 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $2,533,081 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $2,119,918 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $25,056,945 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated, all 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.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 10/16)

  • 8,351 referrals
  • 5,308 pending applications
  • 22 withdrawn
  • 762 ineligible

Local Perspective

Tightening Housing Market. The housing market in Central Florida, which was already tight, has only gotten tighter following this year’s hurricane season. Affordable housing options were already limited prior to Hurricane Irma and will only become more limited as more Puerto Ricans come to the mainland following Hurricane Maria. Developers in the area are considering a number of options, including garage apartments, tiny homes, and mixed-use options instead of the area’s usual suburban-style homes.


HURRICANE HARVEY

FEMA

Texas

By the Numbers: (as of 10/30)

  • 340,934 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,310,256,050 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $1,022,153,660 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $288,102,390 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $474,860,721 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $411,922,596 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**

*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.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 10/16)

  • 718,566 referrals
  • 140,080 pending applications
  • 37,192 withdrawn
  • 231,319 ineligible

Local Perspectives

  • General Land Office Estimates $68.6 Billion Recovery Need. A media release from Commander George P Bush of the General Land Office (GLO) estimates a combined loss of more than $68.6 billion in unmet long-term Hurricane Harvey recovery needs. This estimate is based on “impacts tied to business interruption, economic losses, unemployment, property tax revenue decreases, agricultural losses, and other measures that are difficult to quantify.”
  • Lone Star Legal Aid Letter Asks HUD for Voucher Waivers. Lone Star Legal Aid and the law firm of Michael Daniel and Laura Beshara sent a letter to HUD on October 27 asking HUD to waive certain provisions of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program in order to help make more housing available and affordable for those displaced by Hurricane Harvey. A media release summarizing the letter notes that Lone Star has a client population of 1.47 million people with income less than 125% of the federal poverty level in 24 of the 39 disaster counties. The letter makes a number of requests, including:
    • Waive restrictions imposed on the Houston Housing Authority (HHA) by an April 21, 2017 letter that forces many voucher households to remain in dangerous, unhealthy, and unsafe units and neighborhood conditions. In short, because HHA had a $9 million voucher funding shortfall, the HUD letter instructed HHA to:
      • Cease issuing vouchers to applicants;
      • Rescind any vouchers remaining on the street that were issued to applicant families and cease leasing those rescinded vouchers unless the applicant family has turned in a Request for Tenancy Approval and the unit has passed inspection;
      • Prohibit current voucher participants to port (move with their voucher) to higher cost areas or voluntarily move to higher cost units within HHA’s jurisdiction.
    • Approve increased voucher administrative fees to cover:
      • Increased costs of inspections and of quicker household screening;
      • Financial assistance to convince landlords to accept vouchers by providing incentive payments and security deposits;
      • Housing search assistance counseling to help residents find housing.
    • Authorize use of Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs) that are based on rents in ZIP codes rather than the single Houston metro-wide FMR. The letter states that HUD recently informed disaster area housing authorities that they could seek an increase in the voucher payment standard up to 150% of the metro area FMR (normally the maximum payment standard is 110% of the FMR.) The letter acknowledges that the 150% payment standard is a good start, but it is still insufficient in many areas that have available rental units in good condition but with higher rents.
    • Waive the existing voucher portability restrictions which limit portability to areas that have a public housing agency (PHA) operating a voucher program. Many adjoining or nearby suburbs that have available rental units do not have a PHA with a voucher program. Even where a PHA with a voucher program exists, the regulations involve a complicated process that requires close cooperation between the PHAs.

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