Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Congress

  • Senate Homeland Security Hearing. Today, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held an oversight hearing on the federal response to the recent hurricanes. FEMA Administrator Brock Long, General Donald Jackson of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Robert Salesses from the Department of Defense, and Robert Kadlec from the Department of Health and Human Services testified before the committee about their agencies’ work following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Questions focused mostly on restoring power in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as well as FEMA’s role in the disaster response process. Administrator Long stressed that local and state governments should be leading the efforts as much as possible, advocating for more funding to be spent on ensuring cities and states are resilient and disaster ready. There was virtually no mention of short-, medium-, or long-term housing.
  • Florida Senators’ Letter to FEMA. Florida Senators Marco Rubio (R) and Bill Nelson (D) sent a letter today to FEMA Administrator Brock Long expressing their concern about the lack of housing options for survivors. Delays in providing temporary housing, such as manufactured homes, and direct leasing options are leaving Floridians to live in dangerous, unsustainable housing conditions. The letter also notes that the current estimate for a housing inspection, a required step for Individual Assistance claims, is 45 days, compared to 10 days during Hurricane Katrina. The Senators ask the agency to increase housing options and the number of inspections as well as cut down the wait time for the FEMA helpline.
  • Senator Cornyn’s Concerns. Senator Cornyn (R-TX) has raised concerns that, after being given assurances from Congressional leadership and the White House that a third supplemental spending bill would move quickly in November, the timeline is already slipping. He said he has been given indications that the next supplemental spending bill will require spending offsets elsewhere in the budget, and that leadership may now look to tie the bill to a year-end spending bill for the full federal government or to a Continuing Resolution. All of these elements significantly complicate the passage of additional disaster recovery and rebuilding spending for impacted communities. Meanwhile, Senator Murphy continues to circulate his letter urging that FEMA enter into an agreement with HUD to stand up a DHAP program.

HUD

  • HUD Multifamily Update Call. The Office of Multifamily Housing Programs had a call updating partners on their disaster recovery efforts. HUD reported that owners of HUD-assisted multifamily properties in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands should continue to receive vouchers for November. HUD will continue to authorize payments as long as the certification for the physical condition of the property is attached. The HUD team also provided numbers regarding properties in the affected areas:
    • Texas
      • 454 properties in the impacted area
      • 51,072 units in the impacted area
      • 20,971 assisted units in the impacted area
      • All on-site assessments have been completed
    • Georgia
      • 62 properties
      • 5,249 total units
      • 2,874 assisted units
    • Florida
      • 910 properties
      • 106,513 total units
      • 45,902 assisted units
      • 90+ on-site property assessments completed with remaining 30 scheduled by end of the week
    • Puerto Rico
      • 203 properties
      • 21,013 total units
      • 19,859 assisted units
      • No on-site assessments completed. Disaster team has not been out as they have had difficulty contacting properties and obtaining access. HUD anticipates the teams will begin in mid- to late November.
    • Virgin Islands
      • 17 properties
      • 1,474 total units
      • 1,468 assisted units
    • California
      • 176 properties
      • 14,024 total units
      • 8,454 assisted units
      • 85% of preliminary assessments completed. Only 3 properties have reported damage, which is minor and due to smoke, not fire.

General Update

  • DHAP Fact Sheet. The NLIHC policy team has created a fact sheet on the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) to use in education and advocacy efforts.
  • Hurricane Harvey Individual Assistance Registrants. NLIHC’s research team published a blog post analyzing FEMA’s data on Hurricane Harvey IA registrants. They are working with FEMA to correct FEMA’s public data set for communities impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Once those corrections are made, the research team will post similar analyses for Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Urban Institute Housing Profiles. The Urban Institute created three fact sheets that reveal the current housing market situation in the areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and past storms. The fact sheets also reveal lessons from previous storms and the challenges ahead. Data include the number of houses and mortgages, the percentage of single-family homes, the percentage of FHA- and VA-insured loans, and the homeownership, delinquency, foreclosure, and negative equity rates. Urban Institute notes that changes in the housing market before and after previous storms reveal the challenges that face Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico following this year’s devastating hurricane season. Two key factors will have a big impact on the path and pace of recovery: the type of damage that occurred, and the state of the local housing market before the storm hit.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

FEMA

 By the Numbers: (as of 10/31)

  • 3,546 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $7,155,243 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $4,67,520 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $2,507,723 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.


HURRICANE MARIA

FEMA

 Puerto Rico

 By the Numbers: (as of 10/31)

  • 224,032 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $122,653,270 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $18,672,327 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $103,980,944 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 10/31)

  • 2,872 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $2,369,406 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $632,392 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $1,737,014 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

Local Perspective

  • Florida Governor Describes Assistance to Puerto Ricans. A media release on the website of Florida Governor Rick Scott dated October 31 indicates that on Friday, at the invitation of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, Governor Scott will lead a delegation of Florida utility providers to Puerto Rico. The media release also has a long list various forms of assistance Florida is providing to Puerto Ricans impacted by the hurricanes. Some of the figures include:
    • Since October 3rd, 2017, more than 90,000 individuals have arrived in Florida from Puerto Rico through Miami International Airport, Orlando International Airport, and Port Everglades.
  • The Disaster Relief Centers at the Orlando International Airport, Miami International Airport, and the Port of Miami have served more than 19,000 individuals.
  • The Florida Air National Guard has coordinated nearly 2,000 flights, bringing more than 10,000 personnel and 13,800 tons of cargo in support of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
  • The Department of Health is supporting evacuees with gaining access to public health and medical programs including immunizations, prescriptions, WIC, and other programs.
  • Department of Children and Families staff are on site at the Disaster Relief Centers and are actively working to help Puerto Rican families identify what public assistance benefits are available, including Medicaid eligibility. These staff are also providing instructional handouts on how to apply for these benefits.
  • Florida school districts have enrolled more than 4,900 displaced students from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
  • Florida Virtual School will accept 20,000 Puerto Rican students who were displaced by Hurricane Maria to ensure they are able to continue their education.

HURRICANE IRMA

FEMA

Florida

 By the Numbers: (as of 10/31)

  • 722,814 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $866,095,342 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $592,458,800 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $273,636,542 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

 Georgia

 By the Numbers: (as of 10/31)

  • 8,827, Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $11,789,905 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $8,567,906 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $3,222,001 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

 

  • 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. The public notice explains relocation considerations based on Executive Orders concerning federal actions affecting the floodplains, wetlands, and other considerations, as well as on those based on the National Historic Preservation Act. Similar notices have been published for Texas (see: Update 10/2) and Florida (see: Update 10/10).

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 10/31)

  • 763 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,752,990 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $903,423 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $849,567 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 10/31)

  • 3,529 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $4,889,083 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $2,726,908 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $2,162,175 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

HURRICANE HARVEY

FEMA

Texas

By the Numbers: (as of 10/31)

  • 342,123 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,321,046,996 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $1,029,597,670 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $291,449,327 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
  • Hotel Stays Extended. Some survivors receiving Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) may receive an extension for assistance until November 27. However, FEMA will conduct eligibility reviews on November 7 to decide if survivors have a need for continuing assistance. Survivors will receive a phone call, email, or text message letting them know if they qualify.

Local Perspectives

  • Evictions Stopped. A Harris County judge has signed a Temporary Injunction prevented the Houston Housing Authority (HHA) from evicting residents of a high rise low income senior complex damaged during Hurricane Harvey. Lone Star Legal Aid presented the case on behalf of the residents. The property suffered flood damage in the basement and first floor. In addition, fire-protection and sprinkler systems also incurred damage. However, the building never lost power.

The Fire Marshall issued a report stating that the fire pump, sprinkler, and alarm systems were out of service and needed restoration as soon as possible and that an approved fire watch or standby inspector had to be provided or the residents would have to be evacuated.  An around the clock fire watch or standby inspector was provided. The Fire Marshall also gave HHA until October 13 to cure all deficiencies.

Rather than address the deficiencies, HHA sent a letter stating that the building was totally unusable, that residents’ leases would be terminated, and directing residents to evacuate with all of their possessions within five days. At a Court hearing, HA testified that two transformers could fail and explode. The Court, however “finds this testimony incredible” because the HHA official “lacks the qualifications or experience to make that determination.” Rather, the Court considered the residents’ electrician credible when he asserted that the type of transformers would not explode if they failed.

The Court also found the HHA testimony “incredible” because rather than repair the damage, HHA made a $250,000 interest-free loan to cover resident’s moving expenses. The residents provided credible evidence that the deficiencies could be cured for $30,000 and that if need be, the transformers could be replaced for $30,000 to $40,000. The judge set a deadline of 45 days for HHA to repair the property.

  • 61,000 Families Living in Hotels. The Wall Street Journal reports that more than 61,000 families are living in hotels as a result of Hurricane Harvey. This is nearly double the number that FEMA reported to a Congressional office last week. NLIHC is working to clarify and get the latest, most accurate numbers on those living in hotels, as well as an updated breakdown on the number of IA registrants denied assistance and reasons for denials.
  • Affordable Housing. The Houston and Oklahoma City Housing Authorities are partnering to provide people in Houston with dozens of additional housing vouchers. Recipients of the vouchers can use them in Houston or other cities.

 


Join the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition for real-time updates & work to ensure the federal response to recent hurricanes prioritizes the housing needs of the lowest income people in the impacted areas.

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