Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Monday, November 20, 2017

ADVOCACY ALERT

  • Advocates’ Sign-On Letter to HUD. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have opened a sign-on letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson about the urgent need to enter into a strong Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) with the City of Houston in order to address violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 identified in a letter HUD sent to the City of Houston on January 11, 2017. HUD’s failure to resolve the Title VI violations through a VCA with Houston would seriously hinder the City’s efforts to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey because Houston could would not be able to certify that it is affirmatively furthering fair housing, thereby presenting an obstacle to Houston’s eligibility to receive CDBG-DR funds. On November 17, HUD announced that it was allocating just over $5 billion in CDBG-DR funds to Texas for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts, some of which the state will undoubtedly target for Houston. That action only increases the urgency to resolve this issue, and to do so in a way that expands housing choice for low income people in Houston and that is consistent with the fair housing obligations of the City, the State of Texas, and HUD itself. The letter warns that simply rebuilding the destroyed affordable housing where it is currently located would reinforce patterns of segregation. (For background see Disaster Housing Recovery Updates from November 9 and November 15.) The deadline to sign on is Wednesday, November 22, 2017 at 12 pm ET. If you have questions or would like to sign on to the letter, please contact Joe Rich at the Lawyers’ Committee at jrich@lawyerscommittee.org

HUD

  • HUD Awards $5 Billion CDBG-DR to Texas. On November 17, HUD that it is allocating $5.024 billion of CDBG-DR funding to the state of Texas from the $7.4 billion that was appropriated by Congress in the first disaster spending bill. The remainder of the appropriation will likely be allocated to some combination of Florida, Georgia, California, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands after damage assessments have been completed in those areas. NLIHC has heard that the White House plans to send an additional CDBG-DR request to Congress for Hurricane Maria damage to Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands once damage assessments are completed (which will likely not be happen until early next year). Congress requires that HUD issue a Federal Register notice to accompany the CDBG-DR allocation. NLIHC was told that such a notice is forthcoming and will be similar to the notice issued on November 21, 2016. If HUD makes substantial changes to the public comment period or to the income targeting requirements for the funding, it would be done through the Federal Register NLIHC is monitoring the Federal Register site and will send the notice when it is available.
  • Section 8 Contracts. HUD has determined it will continue authorizing Section 8 contract payments to owners of HUD-assisted multifamily properties in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands through January.

OMB

 

  • Administration Submits Third Disaster Supplemental. The Trump administration submitted its latest disaster supplemental request to Congress on November 17. The White House is requesting $44 billion in emergency aid, including $25.2 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Program and for Small Business Administration (SBA) programs, $12 billion in CDBG-DR flood mitigation funding, $1 billion in emergency agricultural assistance, $1.2 billion for an education recovery fund, $4.6 billion for repair or replacement of damaged federal property, and smaller amounts for other priorities.

The Administration’s request proposes limiting the $12 billion in CDBG-DR funding to flood mitigation projects, stating that these projects would be awarded competitively to states and territories that had more than one flood-related major disaster declaration in the past four years. This requirement likely leaves out California for CDBG-DR funding to repair homes damaged or destroyed by the California wildfires, and would also preclude communities from using the funding for housing priorities outside of flood mitigation. To respond to the wildfires in California, the White House is requesting only tax relief provisions that mirror those provided after the recent hurricanes, including deductions for casualty losses, penalty-free access to retirement accounts, employment relief, and charitable giving incentives, among others.

The White House requests $4.3 million for USDA’s Rural Housing Insurance Fund to provide rehabilitation loans to rural multifamily housing developments and proposes legislative language to allow HUD to specify alternative environmental review requirements for single-family homes built outside of the floodplain and to expedite the recovery.

The White House proposes to offset this emergency funding with further cuts to domestic programs by continuing the low and harmful spending caps on non-defense mandatory programs for another two years. View the full Administration request here.

CONGRESS

  • Congressional Response to OMB Request. Members Congress and other officials have expressed disappointment in the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) request for disaster recovery funds. Texas Governor Scott Abbott (R) called the request “completely inadequate for the needs of the state of Texas.” Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) echoed that sentiment, calling it “wholly inadequate,” while Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said he will work to ensure the state obtains the needed resources. Representatives Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Dennis Ross (R-FL) also said the OMB’s request did not address the recovery needs in their respective states. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) criticized the lack of adequate funding for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) released a joint statement condemning the lack of funding for California as “egregious.” The House may begin drafting a supplemental spending bill next week, while the Senate continues its work on tax reform.
  • After Thanksgiving. When Congress returns to Washington after the Thanksgiving break, their top priority will continue to be tax reform legislation. Congress will likely take up the disaster supplemental in early to mid-December. Given the limited number of days that remain in this year’s Congressional calendar, it is becoming increasingly likely that a disaster supplemental will be attached to a bill to extend the FY18 Continuing Resolution, which expires on December 8, or a final appropriations bill. The NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition will continue urging Congress to provide more robust recovery resources to impacted communities, as well as other needed policy changes to ensure a just, equitable and complete housing recovery for the lowest income people and communities. The full set of disaster housing recovery recommendations can be found here.

GENERAL UPDATE

  • November 20 Summary of Known Deadlines. NLIHC has updated its summary of known application deadlines from the FEMA website. The summary includes deadlines for programs administered by FEMA, SBA, DOL, SNAP, and HUD.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

FEMA

By the Numbers: (as of 11/20)

  • 4,049 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $11,317,192 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $7,311,023 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $4,006,169 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved* 

    *Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.


HURRICANE MARIA

FEMA

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 11/20)

  • 236,664 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $169,669,857 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $64,558,254 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $105,111,603 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $428,886,960 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 11/2)

  • 792,757 referrals
  • 537,851 pending applications
  • 1,297 withdrawn
  • 10,014 ineligible

U.S. Virgin Islands

By the Numbers: (as of 11/20)

  • 4,557 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $9,175,447 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $7,211,121 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $1,964,326 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $105,405,081 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 11/2)

  • 15,859 referrals
  • 11,556 pending applications
  • 73 withdrawn
  • 536 ineligible

Permanent Housing Construction. FEMA, the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA), and the governor’s office have approved permanent housing construction (PHC) for eligible survivors who have sustained at least $17,000 in verified loss, but whose home was not destroyed. Assistance will be in the form of direct repairs to their pre-disaster primary residence in lieu of financial assistance from FEMA. FEMA will ensure that repairs are necessary and estimated costs (including labor) will not exceed $75,000 before approving an application.

Local Perspective

  • The Rockefeller Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and the Ford Foundation announced a joint effort to help Puerto Rico in their recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria. They have pledged approximately $5 million in resources as well as their joint expertise in helping communities rebuild in an equitable and resilient manner. The effort includes several initiatives: creating a commission that builds on knowledge from previous disasters; provides support and capacity building to local philanthropies and nonprofits in Puerto Rico; and an assessment of the damages.
  • Florida Resources for Puerto Rico. Florida Governor Rick Scott provided an updated list of resources available for Puerto Ricans arriving in Florida. These resources include Multi-Agency Resource Centers at two airports and the Port of Miami. State organizations and federal partners will be on-site to provide services such as helping families register for FEMA assistance and SNAP. The press release includes a list of local organizations and notes that the Florida Division of Emergency Management is working with federal and local partners to “explore and consider all available solutions with regards to housing Hurricane Maria survivors.”

HURRICANE IRMA

FEMA

Florida

By the Numbers: (as of 11/20)

  • 744,659 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $923,188,444 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $634,832,523 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $288,355,920 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • *Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 11/2)

  • 1,885,007 referrals
  • 273,386 pending applications
  • 85,121 withdrawn
  • 513,671 ineligible
  • 20,417 participants in TSA
  • STEP Program. At least 140 homeowners in the Florida Keys have registered for FEMA’s Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program. STEP is a rapid repair program that allows participants to shelter in their home while rebuilding. The program provides a functional kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area, and area conditioning. Inspections for the program begin November 21. Those interested must apply for FEMA Individual Assistance before the November 24 deadline.

Georgia

By the Numbers: (as of 11/20)

  • 9,005 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $12,362,544 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $9,042,190 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $3,320,354 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $585,260 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $34,259 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 11/2)

  • 27,005 referrals
  • 5,093 pending applications
  • 1,822 withdrawn
  • 8,151 ineligible

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 11/20)

  • 1,045 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $2,237,850 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $1,144,290 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $1,093,561 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $2,871,448 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated, all for emergency work
  • (Categories A-B)**

    *Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 11/2)

  • 3,312 referrals
  • 1,411 pending applications
  • 117 withdrawn
  • 861 ineligible

U.S. Virgin Islands

By the Numbers: (as of 11/20)

  • 5,385 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $12,235,877 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $9,853,698 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $2,382,179 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $4,133,931 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 11/2)

  • 11,821 referrals
  • 6,292 pending applications
  • 145 withdrawn
  • 984 ineligible

South Carolina

  • 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), Florida (see: Update 10/10), and Georgia (see: Update 10/31).

 


HURRICANE HARVEY

FEMA

Texas

By the Numbers: (as of 11/20)

  • 353,459 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,414,160,251 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $1,099,183,193 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $314,977,058 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $490,646,367 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $427,708,242 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 11/2)

  • 730,699 referrals
  • 44,551 pending applications
  • 45,842 withdrawn
  • 249,241 ineligible
  • 52,050 participants in TSA

 

  • TSA Extended. Eligible Texans receiving Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) may receive an extension for FEMA assistance until January 16, 2018. Survivors will have a mid-term eligibility review with FEMA on December 12. The TSA program allows survivors to stay in hotels paid for by FEMA while they find longer-term housing solutions.
  • GLO and FEMA efforts. Housing assistance response team members with the Texas General Land Office and FEMA will continue working weekdays and weekends throughout the upcoming holiday season. As of November 14, more than 140,000 households have received rental assistance, 76,000 have received repair assistance, and 367 households have received replacement assistance amounting to $8.8 million. The agencies have determined that over 8,600 applicants are eligible for direct short-term housing assistance, including the direct housing program and the Direct Assistance for Limited Home Repair (DALHR) program. Direct short-term housing provides manufactured housing units and travel trailers; 199 families have been able to move in to these units.

Local Perspectives

State Disaster Declaration Renewed. Governor Greg Abbott has extended the State Disaster Declaration for all Texas counties affected by Hurricane Harvey. Currently, 60 counties are included in the declaration. State Disaster Declarations must be renewed every 30 days to keep assistance available.

Rebuild Texas Update. A weekly report from the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas provides some additional numbers regarding the recovery process in Texas:

  • As of November 16, nearly 17,000 households were participating in FEMA’s TSA program.
  • As of November 15, FEMA received 888,866 individual assistance (IA) applications.
  • 660 manufactured housing units are being installed or are already occupied by displaced families.
  • 2,735 applicants are in the final stages of the direct disaster housing process

Houston Recovers. A website from the City of Houston provides information regarding post-Harvey recovery, including additional data. The website maps the number of estimated affected units (311,859) as well as information on 311 and 911 calls and responses and debris removal. The website reports the number of trucks collecting debris for the day in Houston as well as how much debris has been collected (1,445,905 cubic yards).

Houston Rising. On November 15, more than a dozen community-based groups launched Houston Rising, a coalition fighting for equitable recovery. The coalition will organize affected communities to help increase their power in decision-making and help track recovery money to ensure it is used for disproportionately affected communities. The new coalition held its first community hearing on November 18. Members of the coalition include: A.C.T.I.O.N CDC, Air Alliance, Black Lives Mater Houston, Coalition of Community Organizations, Faith in Texas, Fe y Justicia, FIEL, Gulf Coast AFL-CIO, NAACP Houston Branch, SEIU Texas, T.E.J.A.S., Texas Appleseed, TOP Education Fund, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, West Street Recovery, and Workers Defense Project.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund to Distribute $28.9 Million. The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund is distributing $28.9 million, on top of $7.5 million previously allotted, to local nonprofit organizations to provide financial aid and services to flood victims. The Fund, founded by Mayor Sylvester Turner and County Judge Ed Emmett, has collected more than $100 million.

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