Federal Response


  • HUD has approved Puerto Rico’s plan for spending the $1.5 billion allocation from the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery to assist in long-term recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The grant includes $1 billion for housing, with $10 million earmarked for rental assistance for the elderly and other vulnerable households. The plan also includes $145 million for economic revitalization and $100 million for infrastructure.


  • FEMA has approved an alternative document to verify home ownership in Puerto Rico for applications for disaster assistance by those without formal legal title. The DHRC’s Puerto Rico Working Group worked with FEMA’s Office of Chief Counsel to develop this alternative to substitute the notarized statement previously required by FEMA.  FEMA has also agreed to reconsider applications for disaster assistance from owners of property who lack a formal title or the documents to verify ownership.  A press release issued by Ayuda Legal Huracán María provides more detail.
  • The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies CCD emergency Management Task Force has extended the deadline for a sign-on letter to the US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. This letter is in response to FEMA’s announcement that the number of disability integration advisors deployed to states in federally declared disasters will be reduced from 60 to 5. Sign on to the letter here by August 3.
  • FEMA has released a fact sheet titled “Tips that Might Change a FEMA Eligibility Determination” that outlines how survivors can best appeal their ineligibility status.

State Action

  • The Texas General Land Office (GLO) received a “no findings” rating in a recent audit of its Hurricane Harvey direct housing response. The housing response, which was executed through a partnership between the Texas GLO and FEMA, was found to be in compliance with federal financial guidelines.

Local Perspectives

  • Democracy Forward Foundation, on behalf of the Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico and LatinoJustice, filed a lawsuit against FEMA for failing to release records with information about its response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. This case hinges on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests submitted over six months ago to which FEMA failed to respond.


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

  • After months of collaboration, this WG secured FEMA’s approval for an affidavit to verify home ownership in Puerto Rico for applications for disaster assistance by those without formal legal title.
  • Next meeting: August 21 at 3:00 pm EDT


  • Next meeting: August 27 at 3:00 PM EDT

Data Transparency

  • The WG is developing an outline for an Independent Commission on Disaster Housing Recovery to be finalized with House Homeland Security subcommittee staff.
  • Next meeting: September 5 at 3:30 PM EDT


  • Next meeting: August 7, 12:30 PM EDT

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