Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Federal Response

Congress
Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) wrote a letter to Kathy Kraninger, Program Associate Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), expressing concern over her role in the Trump administration’s response to Hurricane Maria. They are demanding documentation related to her oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, HUD, and the Department of Treasury.

HUD
HUD approved the U.S. Virgin Islands’ disaster recovery plan for $243 million in CDBG-DR funds.  This allocation includes $5 million for rental rehabilitation and reconstruction, $32 million for public and affordable housing development, $15 million for supportive housing and sheltering programs, and $125.5 million for infrastructure.

The Puerto Rico Department of Housing (PRDOH) has posted over 300 pages of public comments and PRDOH responses relative to its CDBG-DR Action Plan. In response to a letter sent on behalf of the DHRC, PRDOH added a rental assistance program for the elderly, a definition of vulnerable population, and a Title Clearance Program. 

Local Perspectives
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has announced a new $1 million case management program aiming to connect displaced Puerto Ricans with housing, social services, and employment opportunities. Governor Cuomo, in a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, urged the federal government to activate DHAP and extend TSA.

A mayor and two former government officials allegedly used nearly $5 million in federal funds to illegally pay the town’s public employees and municipal contractors. This includes $2.5 million in HUD funding in October 2014, and the officials have now been arrested.

Resources
The National Disaster Legal Aid Advocacy Center has released a guide for quicker reference points in a recording of its webinar:  25 Pro Tips for Working with FEMA:  Lessons Learned that Work.  It’s designed for those providing legal assistance to clients in recovery efforts. To gain access, please log in or sign up to be a member of the practice area.

Equal Justice Works has launched a Disaster Recovery Legal Corps Fellowship Program to provide legal assistance to individuals impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The program will place 18 lawyers in Texas and 3 lawyers in Florida, where they will be matched with local non-profits to provide legal assistance related to housing, employment, flood insurance, public benefits, and more.

YOUR ONLINE TOOL FOR SHARING STORIES OF DISASTER SURVIVORS:

Personal stories from disaster survivors can make a compelling case for the development of more responsive federal policies and programs—now and in the future. DHRC is collecting these accounts from survivors of the hurricanes and wildfires of 2017 and their advocates through a brief online form in both English and Spanish.  Clients can choose to remain anonymous.


Working Groups on Disaster Housing Recovery

Puerto Rico
Next meeting:  July 17 at 3:00 pm EDT

Homelessness
Next meeting:  July 23 at 3:00 PM EDT

Data Transparency
DHRC’s pro bono attorneys have secured a meeting with FEMA’s Office of Chief Counsel to secure information relative to FEMA’s data collection protocols and quality control.
Next meeting:   August 1 at 3:30 PM EDT

Policy
The WG developed the language for the sign-on letters for former/current government officials to urge congressional leaders to pass legislation to implement DHAP for the 2017 and future disasters.
Next meeting:  July 17, 12:30 PM EDT


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

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