Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Wednesday, January 3, 2018

CALIFORNIA

FEMA

Governor Brown’s office sent an official request for a major disaster declaration for the southern California wildfires on December 20, and the President was to evaluate this request with FEMA for a quick response.  The major disaster request, if approved, would make available individual assistance as well as public assistance, specifically the Individuals and Housing Program, Crisis Counseling and Disaster Legal Services, Disaster case management, Transitional sheltering assistance, unemployment assistance, hazard mitigation, and possible Small Business Administration loans and Department of Agriculture loans.  The Major Disaster Declaration for California released by the President yesterday, however, was limited to FEMA Public Assistance on the usual 75% cost-sharing basis for the state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations—but not to individuals.  The request approved public assistance (PA) for two counties, and they are still evaluating the individual assistance (IA) request for all counties, which is the funding that can go directly to individuals and families.  Non-profits who are assisting with recovery in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties are potentially eligible for assistance.  Non-profits assisting with recovery in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties are potentially eligible for assistance, and since the request for PA for IA in San Diego county is still being reviewed, it is possible that non-profits operating there will also be eligible.


PUERTO RICO

CONGRESS

The Hispanic Federation’s President José Calderón condemns both the Tax Bill and House supplemental disaster recovery assistance package.  In response to the disaster supplemental bill passed by the House of Representatives, Mr. Calderon issued a formal statement:  “This week the United States Congress has all but abandoned the people of Puerto Rico. The much-celebrated Tax Bill sent by Republican leaders to the White House places an onerous tax on Puerto Rico at the moment when the island needs as much economic stimulus as possible.  And last night, as part of a deeply flawed supplemental disaster recovery assistance package, Congress failed to provide the funding Puerto Rico desperately needs to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.”

LOCAL PERSPECTIVE

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is proposing to give 48,000 “squatters” legal title to their land, according to Politico.  It is a plan that could cost up to $30 million and for which federal disaster aid is needed to make it work.  The Governor asked for flexibility to spend disaster aid on land surveys and other work needed to transfer property ownership to squatters when he met last month with HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Deputy Secretary Pam Patenaude.


FLORIDA

LOCAL PERSPECTIVE

 Housing credit and State Apartments Incentive Loan (SAIL) funding is available for affordable housing for hurricane recovery in the Keys.  The Request for Applications is open to applicants proposing the development of affordable, multifamily housing located in Monroe County.  The Florida Housing Finance Corporation expects to have up to an estimated $2,230,000 of Housing Credits and up to an estimated $6,500,000 in SAIL.

Florida Legal Services, Inc., is asking for help in locating Hurricane Irma survivors who were unable to pre-register for Disaster Food Assistance (D-SNAP).  After Irma, many affected persons with disabilities who needed D-SNAP were unable to travel to a D-SNAP site or stand in line to be interviewed, a requirement to qualifying for D-SNAP.  Only those completing pre-registration were provided phone interviews.  Please share this link with those unable to pre-register.

The Orlando Sentinel published a commentary by the United Way of Florida CEO and the Bishop of the United Methodist Church-Florida Conference calling on Governor Rick Scott to secure the federal Disaster Housing Assistance Program to provide housing for those displaced by two hurricanes in 2017.  Showcasing this yet untapped federal housing resource, the nonprofit leaders explained, “Left to fill the void, charities and nonprofits try to meet the increased demand for their services, depleting them of the resources they rely on to be able to serve their communities throughout the year. This is where we find ourselves now in Florida and in Puerto Rico to the south.”


TEXAS

HUD

HUD is allocating $57.8 million of previously appropriated CDBG-DR funds to Texas for Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery, per a December 27, 2017 Federal Register notice. On May 5, 2017, Congress passed the Appropriations Act of 2017 that included $400 million of additional CDBG-DR for various disasters. Of that total, $342,200,000 was allocated to address 2015 and 2016 disasters.   Federal Register notices implementing use of CDBG-DR typically require at least 80% of the funds to address unmet needs within HUD-identified “most impacted and distressed areas.” The December 27 notice requires Texas to use at least 80% in Harris County (which includes Houston).  In addition, the $57.8 million remains subject to the requirement that 70% of the funds benefit low and moderate-income households. To address the typical requirement of grantees to develop an Action Plan detailing proposed uses based on an analysis of unmet needs, HUD is allowing Texas to adopt and incorporate sections and information from its 2016 disaster Action Plan, provided Texas adds updated information specific to Hurricane Harvey including an updated assessment of community impacts and unmet needs.


Read previous disaster housing recovery updates and recommendations at: http://nlihc.org/issues/disaster 

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