Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Wednesday, February 14, 2018

General Updates

Letters Requesting Extension of TSA. Representatives Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Jose Serrano (D-NY) sent a letter to FEMA administrator Brock Long urging him to expand the Direct Lease Program for Puerto Rican evacuees in addition to extending the Transitional Shelter Assistance Program (TSA) through June 1. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) also sent a letter requesting an extension of the TSA for families facing February 14 deadline, regardless of FEMA’s determination of eligibility for the program.

Proposed Cuts for Flood Mapping. President Trump’s proposed budget, which the administration released on February 12, requested only $100 million for FEMA’s flood hazard mapping program–a decrease of $78 million from FY17 (FY18 levels have yet to be enacted). This program helps the National Flood Insurance Program determine who is required to purchase flood insurance and can influence the development of floodplain and building regulations. This proposal comes after a report from the Inspector General’s Office found that nearly 60% of FEMA’s flood maps are out of date. Congress has not acted on these proposed cuts, and several members on both sides of the aisle have supported increased funding for flood mapping activities.

CRS Supplemental Overview. The Congressional Research Center (CRS) released an overview of the 2017 disaster supplemental appropriations. The report provides a detailed breakdown of the requested, enacted, and proposed supplemental funding in the first two disaster aid bills. The report was released prior to the passage of the third supplemental earlier this month.

Disaster Relief Job Opening. Center for American Progress is hiring for a Director of the new Puerto Rico Relief and Economic Policy Initiative.


CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

FEMA

October Wildfires

By the Numbers: (as of 2/14)

  • 4,412 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $15,026,966 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $9,192,078 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $5,834,888 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $209,033,965 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $208,830,256 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $203,708 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) 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

December Wildfires, Flooding, Mudflows, and Debris Flows

By the Numbers: (as of 2/14)

  • 575 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $3,395,741 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $2,967,554 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $428,187 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed. 


HURRICANE MARIA

FEMA

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 2/14)

  • 428,200 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,018,800,223 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $555,105,142 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $463,695,081 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $535,879,503 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 2/14)

  • 10,342 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $33,759,017 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $22,902,219 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $10,856,798 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $255,223,253 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $246,795,312 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $1,014,393 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) 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.

USACE Power Mission. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has finished its mission to provide temporary power for critical facilities in the U.S. Virgin Islands. FEMA reports that electricity has been restored to 98% of USVI customers.

Local Perspectives

Families Face Homelessness as Vouchers Expire. FEMA hotel vouchers expire today for hundreds of Puerto Rican families who have evacuated the island. Puerto Rican evacuees have struggled to find affordable homes and jobs on the mainland but face the prospect of a damaged home or lack of power if they return home. FEMA has made no indication that it will extend the deadline for these families nor provide long-term, proven solutions such as the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP). Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló specifically requested FEMA make Direct Lease assistance available, but it has not yet done so. The agency has deemed many of these evacuees’ homes habitable, although those assessments are often contested by the families, which are living in Connecticut, Philadelphia, Florida, and Massachusetts.

Citi Community Development Fund Recovery Initiative. Citi Community Development is providing $500,000 in support to four Puerto Rican housing counseling organizations for an initiative to provide housing assistance to Puerto Rican communities. The initiative will help secure housing solutions and provide a variety of housing resources to renters and homeowners.

Commission for Puerto Rican Evacuees in NJ. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy established a commission to help provide relief for the approximately 30,000 Puerto Rican evacuees who have come to the state following Hurricane Maria. The 18-member commission will work with federal agencies to help the recovery efforts for all Puerto Ricans and release a report of its findings within 90 days.


HURRICANE IRMA

FEMA

Florida

By the Numbers: (as of 2/14)

  • 771,342 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $986,737,756 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $681,968,656 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $304,769,100 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $16,685,645 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $4,271,560 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $44,787 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) 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 2/14)

  • 9,342 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $13,252,695 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $9,775,375 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $3,477,319 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $2,802,582 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $2,032,699 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $216,688 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) 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 2/14)

  • 1,316 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $3,113,156 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $1,660,109 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $1,453,046 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $3,891,330 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 2/14)

  • 8,245 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $32,312,742 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $23,092,581 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $9,220,162 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $4,633,508 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $4,591,628 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $19,335 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) 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.

Local Perspectives

Florida Recovery Programs Proposed. The Florida Legislature is making progress towards creating two programs designed to provide housing assistance following Hurricane Irma. House Bill 987 and companion Senate Bill 1328 would create a Hurricane Housing Recovery Program and a Rental Recovery Loan Program. Both programs would use funds from Florida’s state housing trust fund to provide emergency housing and repairs.


HURRICANE HARVEY

FEMA

Texas

By the Numbers: (as of 2/14)

  • 370,400 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,554,212,824 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $1,178,161,653 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $376,051,171 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $625,355,355 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $561,658,430 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $758,800 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) 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.

Local Perspectives

GLO Comment Period Extended. The Texas General Land Office (GLO) has extended the deadline for public comments to February 20 for the Texas State Action Plan for spending the initial $57.8 million in Community Development Block Grants – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). Texas Housers has been providing critiques and information regarding the plan on its blog.

Needs Assessment Critiques. CDBG-DR funds are intended to benefit low- and moderate-income people to help ensure an equitable recovery. The state government is responsible for implementing that goal through a needs assessment. Texas Housers has noted several deficiencies in the needs assessment GLO implemented for its plan to spend the initial $57.8 billion allocation. They note several HUD recommendations for a quality needs assessment: collect and update data; analyze data through the lens of the impact of short-term recovery; estimate unmet need, and prioritize needs as to not exacerbate pre-disaster conditions.

Lack of Citizen Participation Plan. Despite regulations from HUD that require states establish a citizen participation plan, GLO has not included one in its action plan. In comments submitted to GLO, Texas Housers proposes several actions, including public hearings, greater publicity about the plan, and the adoption of strategies utilized by Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

Comment on City Code Changes. The City of Houston is considering changes to city codes aimed to ensure that new homes are built high enough to reduce the risk of flood loss. Public input can be submitted online through Monday, February 19 or community members can contact local Council Members before the ordinance is presented on February 28.

Mitigation Funds Available. Governor Abbott announced on February 13 that an additional $1 billion in FEMA funds would be available for hazard and flood mitigation. Only $500 million is currently available, while the remaining funds will be provided on or before August 25.

No Action on Emergency Plan. ProPublica reports that Harris County adopted a disaster-preparation plan month prior to Hurricane Harvey but failed to act on the key assumption that the Red Cross would be slow to act. The “Mass Shelter Plan,” approved in January 2017, assigned responsibility to Harris County for identifying emergency shelter and providing initial care since it could take up to seven days for its main partner, the Red Cross, to be prepared to take over. Despite this acknowledgment, the County did not act on its plan, and emails suggest many officials were unaware of an emergency sheltering plan.


Read previous Disaster Housing Recovery updates at: http://nlihc.org/issues/disaster

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