Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Congress

  • Congressional representatives Jenniffer González-Colon (R-PR-At Large) and Nydia Velázquez (D-NY-7) are cosponsoring a panel discussion with the Youth Development Institute of Puerto Rico.  The panel will discuss the condition of children in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.  RSVP here to attend the event on September 25 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. EDT in the Cannon House Office Building, Room 340, in Washington.

Federal Response

FEMA

  • FEMA is seeking feedback on a draft policy guide titled, Planning Considerations: Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place. The deadline for comments is 5:00 p.m. EDT on August 31, 2018. The policy guide, feedback form, and instructions for providing feedback are available here. FEMA will host a webinar on Wednesday, August 29 at 4:00 p.m. EDT to discuss the draft and process for providing feedback. The webinar is open to the public and requires advance registration.
  • FEMA responded to a request from six U.S. Senators with a letter outlining how the Agency will provide outreach for the new proof-of-ownership, sworn statement developed by DHRC member organizations in Puerto Rico with FEMA’s Office of Chief Counsel.  FEMA also addresses how it will handle appeals using the new document.

State Action

  • The Texas General Land Office (GLO) released the report Hurricane Harvey: Texas At Risk. The report makes 18 specific policy recommendations, including that HUD “rewrite the formula for the allocation of funding to municipal and county governments directing aid to low and moderate-income people.” The GLO report also recommends consolidating funding for all temporary FEMA housing into one block grant to the states at high risk for natural disasters and consolidating the disaster housing programs of FEMA, HUD, and the SBA into one agency or department to “eliminate competing missions and business systems which slow down the temporary housing response.” Read the press release.
  • A new study released on August 28 estimates that, between September 2017 and February 2018, Hurricane Maria caused 2,975 deaths in Puerto Rico – a dramatic increase from the official government estimate of 64 deaths. The analysis was commissioned by the governor of Puerto Rico and conducted by researchers at the George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Local Perspectives

  • The Washington Post featured a story describing the enduring effects of Hurricane Harvey on Texas’s low-income residents. The ‘Harvey Homeless’ shows how Houston’s working-class and lower-middle-class communities still live in poor, unsafe conditions and cannot afford the repairs necessary to make their homes livable.
  • Researchers from The Kaiser Family Foundation and Episcopal Health Foundation published a report on August 23 of findings from surveys of residents affected by Hurricane Harvey titled, One Year after the Storm: Texas Gulf Coast Residents’ Views and Experiences with Hurricane Harvey Recovery. Survey results reveal short term effects of the hurricane on impacted residents–particularly those who are Black, Latinx, or have low incomes. According to the survey results, these affected communities are more likely to report financial problems, “such as falling behind in their rent or mortgage, having problems paying for food, taking on extra work, or borrowing money from friends and relatives to make ends meet.”
  • According to reporting from PRI, power was finally fully restored to Puerto Rico on August 24, “11.5 months after it first went out and more than a week after the island’s power authority announced electricity had been fully restored across the island.”
  • The DHRC has posted the first of two first-person, survivor stories on the NLIHC blog, On the Home FrontTitled A year later & I’m still trying to recover from Hurricane Harvey, the blog post marks the recent one-year anniversary of the hurricane’s landfall in Texas and highlights the persistent housing-related challenges faced by low income survivors during the recovery process.
  • Following FEMA’s approval of the use of the Sworn Declaration to verify home ownership in Puerto Rico in the absence of formal title, an informational webinar is now available online in English and Spanish.  Developed by Ayuda Legal Huracán María, Fundacion Fondos de Acceso a la Justicia, and Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico, the webinar provides an overview of the relevant federal regulations, the legal framework in Puerto Rico, as well as an overview of the contents of the Sworn Declaration.

Resources

  • A Spanish version of NLIHC’s outline of the key provisions of the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) Federal Register Notice is now available. NLIHC would like to thank our DHRC partner, Francisco Rodriguez, President/CEO of Coalicion de Coaliciones, for his assistance in the translation of this document.  The English version is available here.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank, Dallas-Houston Branch, will host an Interagency CRA & Disaster Recovery Listening Session on September 20, from 8:30 am-2:30pm. The focus is on lessons learned before and after Hurricane Harvey and disaster recovery lending, investments, and other services under the Community Reinvestment Act. Seating for this event is limited, and registration will close once capacity is reached. Go here to register.
  • In a recent study, titled Damages Done: The Longitudinal Impacts of Natural Hazards on Wealth Inequality in the United States, researchers from Rice University and the University of Pittsburgh examined the relationship between natural disasters and income inequality. In counties that experienced at least $10 Billion in hazard damage, the study finds that the average family wealth trajectories diverge based on race – with White families gaining $126,000 on average, and losses for families of color ranging from $10,000 to $29,000.
  • A Helping Handbook is now available for individuals and small businesses affected by the summer 2018 fires in Northern California. The handbook, developed by Morrison & Foerster LLP, provides up-to-date, practical information on many subjects, including housing, government benefits, and FEMA assistance. 

Working Groups on Disaster Housing Recovery

Puerto Rico

  • Key groups based in Puerto Rico in this group developed and posted a webinar to explain the new sworn statement FEMA will accept as proof of ownership of property damaged by the hurricane.
  • Next meeting:  September 18 at 3:00 pm EDT

Homelessness

  • This WG posted the first of three first-person survivor stories on NLIHC’s On the Homefront
  • Next meeting:  September 24 at 3:00 PM EDT

Data Transparency

  • Next meeting:   September 5 at 3:30 PM EDT

Policy

  • Next meeting:  September 4 at 12:30pm EDT

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: