- The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) updated policies for homeowners affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. FHA’s “Disaster Standalone Partial Claim” will now be the first mortgage relief option available for hurricane victims with FHA-insured homes located in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This option covers up to 30% of unpaid principal balance through an interest-free second loan on the mortgage and streamlines income documentation and other requirements to expedite relief to homeowners. FHA also issued a final 30-day extension of the foreclosure moratorium, now extended through September 16, 2018.
- FEMA closed Puerto Rico disaster recovery centers in Maunabo and Gurabo on August 15, Camuy and Isabela on August 17, and Barceloneta and Las Piedras on August 18. Survivors can still receive updates about applications, the appeals process, or check the status of their claim online or via the FEMA Helpline.
- FEMA coordinated with legal aid groups Ayuda Legal Huracán María, Fundación Fondo de Acceso a la Justicia, and Servicios Legales de Puerto Rico—all DHRC partners–to develop an additional method to verify home ownership on appeal. The new Sworn Declaration, including any corresponding and supplementary documents, can be used in place of traditional documentation to verify ownership of a pre-disaster primary residence and determine eligibility for financial assistance.
- FEMA published an additional set of infographics showing statistics on the first year of the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort in Texas.
- HUD Secretary Ben Carson signed the grant agreement on August 17 authorizing the Texas General Land Office (GLO) to begin spending $5.024B in CDBG-DR funds to help Texas communities recover from Hurricane Harvey. These funds were approved last June per GLO’s submission of its CDBG-DRState Action Plan.
- In honor of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, multiple news outlets including the Texas Tribune, Houston Chronicle, and Texas Monthly featured stories on the impact of the hurricane and displacement of Texas families in the context of ongoing recovery efforts in Houston. An Op-Ed in the Houston Business Journal from research economist Luis Torres with Texas A&M’s Real Estate Center highlights the potential impact of environmental regulations on housing affordability. According to Mimi Swartz of Texas Monthly, “. . . Houston could become a model for how to take on two of the thorniest issues plaguing cities around the world: climate change and increasingly unaffordable housing (the two are, it turns out, nearly inseparable).”
- Accuweather released an analysis of the sources and uses of federal aid as well as individual and philanthropic donations deployed in response to Hurricane Harvey.
- Nearly one year after Hurricane Irma made landfall, NPR featured a story on a Florida Keys Community Land Trust project to build a 200-unit workforce housing complex, built according to FEMA standards.
- The HOME Coalition is hosting the People’s Tribunal on Harvey Recovery on Friday, August 24, at 6 PM (CDT). Remote attendees can register online for the livestream. The event will feature first-hand accounts of the Harvey Recovery facing the city of Houston and its residents.
- On Thursday, August 30, from 4:00-5:00 pm EDT, Pro Bono Net will host a roundtable discussion on Disaster Recovery and Recoupments as part of its Disaster Legal Aid 2018 Roundtable Series. To register, click here. The discussion will review what happens when an agency providing funding believes it has given an individual funding in error.
Working Groups on Disaster Housing Recovery
- The work group will continue to work on ways to share the newly created, alternative proof-of-ownership document with Hurricane Maria survivors who were denied FEMA assistance due to title issues.
- Next meeting: September 18 at 3:00 pm EDT
- Next meeting: August 27 at 3:00 PM EDT
- Next meeting: September 5 at 3:30 PM EDT
- Next meeting: September 4 at 12:30pm EDT
Read previous Disaster Housing Recovery updates at http://nlihc.org/issues/disaster