Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The tax exemption for private activity bonds (PAB) survived the House and Senate Tax Reform bills.  The legislation preserves the 9% and 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit)—representing a significant victory for our housing advocates.  The bill does, however, lack the bipartisan reforms that would have improved the Housing Credit and its reach to extremely low-income households or people experiencing homelessness. Moreover, the bill fails to adjust the Housing Credit to address its likely reduced ability to generate equity investments due to the lowering of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

The House’s $81 billion disaster aid package is not without its critics on the left and the right. The House bill is a significant improvement over the Administration’s request, which would have only provided $44 billion. However, some Republicans criticize the bill as too generous, and some Democrats have called provisions related to Puerto Rico “unworkable.” DHRC is preparing to send a letter calling on the Senate to improve the bill by adding designated housing investments, like those listed here, and other safeguards to ensure an equitable recovery. It is unclear whether the bill has enough support to be enacted as part of a larger legislative package by year’s end or if it will be pushed back till January to see final passage in both houses.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson visited Puerto Rico yesterday for the first time since Hurricane Maria hit.  He used his one-day visit to meet with local mayors and Governor Ricardo Rosselló, along with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Although he did not tour the island or fly over Puerto Rico’s hardest-hit areas, the Secretary said he was “impressed” by the island’s recovery.  As mentioned in our previous update this week, DHRC partners recently back from Puerto Rico areas to the south of San Juan (like Yabucoa) as still being without electric grid power or water.  According to CNN, Secretary Carson told FEMA staff near San Juan, “You know, interestingly enough, from the reports that I had gotten, I had no idea that we had moved this far along.”

Texas Housers provides an outline of key findings from a representative survey of adults living in 24 counties along the Texas coast that were particularly hard-hit by Hurricane Harvey. The report, released by Episcopal Health Foundation and Kaiser Family Foundation, reveals how addressing the urgent housing needs of vulnerable communities can stem the financial havoc wrought by the storm and help manage Harvey’s impact on the physical and mental health of survivors. The survey was conducted two to three months after Harvey made landfall.  A few of the findings:

  • Nearly half of individuals surveyed said they had no savings whatsoever to tap into in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
  • As a result, 40% of low-income respondents, 31% of black respondents, and 36% of Hispanic respondents reported falling behind on rent or mortgage payments.
  • Hispanic, black and low-income residents of Harvey-affected areas were more likely to report negative employment effects due to the storm.
  • Fifty-nine percent of low-income respondents, 65% of Hispanic respondents and 46% of black respondents said they or someone they live with had lost a job, had hours cut or suffered another loss of income due to Hurricane Harvey.
  • Out of a list of ten rebuilding and recovery activities, housing efforts were indicated as second, third, and fourth highest priority. Providing financial help to those in need topped the list.

Hundreds of Puerto Ricans continue to arrive daily at Orlando International Airport, escaping the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in September.  More than 239,000 Puerto Ricans have arrived in Florida since October 3, according to figures from Florida’s State Emergency Response Team– the largest evacuation on this scale in the state’s history.  Marytza Sanz, president of Latino Leadership, said, “This isn’t an emergency that’s finished, like the hurricane that passed by Puerto Rico. This is a hurricane that’s starting here, in Florida.”  Sanz, along with other experts and people on the ground, doesn’t believe the government is doing enough, in terms of coordination and long-term planning. [https://www.curbed.com/2017/12/19/16792936/hurricane-maria-puerto-rico-florida-orlando]

Monroe County Emergency Management (The Keys) has announced it will be hosting six public meetings in early 2018 regarding Hurricane Irma. These are designed to hear from the community to enable the County to collect feedback about what went right and what went wrong before, during and after Hurricane Irma—as well as what can be done better for future storms.

Here’s the latest FEMA data and progress over a week’s time in the multiple hurricane and wildfire disaster areas.


WILDFIRES

FEMA

California

By the Numbers: (as of 12/20)

  • 4,285 (cf. 4,259 on 12/13) Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $13,663,084 (cf. $13,495,433 on 12/13) Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $8,472,321 (cf. $8,385,942 on 12/13) Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $5,190,762 (cf. $5,109,490 on 12/13) Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.


HURRICANE MARIA

FEMA

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 12/20)

  • 355,118 (cf. 326,751 on 12/13) Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $661,362,078 (cf. $555,823,051 on 12/13) Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $344,646,136 (cf. $285,957,883 on 12/13) Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $316,715,943 (cf. $269,865,168 on 12/13) Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $453,389,436 (unchanged) 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.

U.S. Virgin Islands

By the Numbers: (as of 12/20)

  • 7,539 (cf. 7,256 on 12/13) Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $20,029,041(cf. $18,626,750 on 12/13) Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $16,118,691 (cf. $15,099,016 on 12/13) Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $3,910,350 (cf. $3,527,734 on 12/13) Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $113,017,738 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated, all for emergency work**
  • $105,604,189 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.


HURRICANE IRMA

FEMA

Florida

By the Numbers: (as of 12/20)

  • 763,317 (cf. 757,518 on 12/13) Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $960,188,046 (cf. $952,756,081 on 12/13) Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $659,784,424 (cf. $655,750,078 on 12/13) Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $300,403,622 (cf. $297,006,004 on 12/13) Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $12,848,523 (cf. $479,226 on 12/13) Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated, all for emergency work (Categories A-B)**
  • $479,226 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

Georgia

By the Numbers: (as of 12/20)

  • 9,142 (cf. 9,105 on 12/13) Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $12,696,704 (cf. $12,641,900 on 12/13) Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $9,315,716 (cf. $9,275,897 on 12/13) Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $3,380,989 (cf. $3,336,002 on 12/13) Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $585,260 Total Public Assistance Grants (unchanged) (PA) obligated**
  • $34,259 Emergency Work (unchanged) (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.

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 12/17)

  • 1,184 (cf. 1,172 on 12/13) Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $2,573,975 (cf. $2,564,506 on 12/13) Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $1,311,902 (cf. $1,309,402 on 12/13) Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $1,262,073 (cf. $1,255,104 on 12/13) Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $2,871,448 (cf. $2,871,448 on 12/13) Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated, all for emergency work**

*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

U.S. Virgin Islands

  • By the Numbers: (as of 12/20)
  • 6,708 (cf. 6,532 on 12/13) Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $19,351,206 (cf. $18,208,379 on 12/13) Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $15,746,284 (cf. $14,989,457 on 12/13) Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $3,604,922 (cf. $3,218,922 on 12/13) Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $4,173,996 (cf. $4,173,996 on 12/13) Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated*
  • $4,151,451 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) – Dollars 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


HURRICANE HARVEY

FEMA

Texas

By the Numbers: (as of 12/20)

  • 361,075 (cf. on 12/13) 359,766 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,486,630,603 (cf. $1,475,922,847 on 12/13) Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $1,139,518,977 (cf. $1,134,347,764 on 12/13) Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $347,111,627 (cf. $341,575,084 on 12/13) Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $502,344,847 (unchanged) Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $439,406,722 (unchanged) 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.

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