Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Hurricane Florence

North Carolina

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved 10,417 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $33.24 million total for Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  •  Three Mobile Registration Intake Centers are open through September 29 in New Hanover, Craven and Carteret counties.

State Government

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety reports that 1,550 people remain in 22 shelters.

South Carolina

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved 473 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $900,760 total for Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • Survivors in Chesterfield County are now eligible to apply for Individual Assistance.

State Government

  • Hurricane survivors facing legal issues and unable to afford a lawyer may call the South Carolina Bar disaster Hotline at 1-877-797-2227 ext. 120 (toll-free) or (803) 576-3815 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to request assistance. When connected to the hotline, callers should identify that they are seeking disaster-related legal assistance, brief details of the assistance needed and in which disaster-declared county they are located. You can also sign up to help with the hotline here.
  • South Carolina Legal Services provides free legal assistance to low income South Carolinians on a variety of civil issues including disaster recovery. Apply by calling (888) 346-5592 or online at https://www.lawhelp.org/sc/online-intake.
  • The One SC Fund provides grants to nonprofits that provide recovery and rebuilding assistance.
  • South Carolina Appleseed has a resource page on their website that provides information on disaster recovery.
  • Hurricane Florence has caused rivers across South Carolina to reach record-high levels, flooding thousands of homes across the state.

2017 Disasters

Federal Response

Congress

  • The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition sent a letter to Congress on Monday, September 24 outlining concerns with the FAA Authorization Bill, which contains several disaster-related provisions. While the letter expresses appreciation for Congress’s timely response to the needs of survivors of Hurricane Florence, it highlights concerns about the bill’s failure to activate the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) and the inclusion of harmful provisions that undermine a fair and equitable recovery for low income survivors. NLIHC also sent a Call-To-Action, urging housing organizations, advocates, and disaster survivors to contact their congressional representatives to ensure the bill meets the needs of low income survivors. Review NLIHC’s top 10 priorities for disaster recovery in the 2018 spending bills as well as recommendations for Congress, FEMA, and HUD, respectively.
  • Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), and Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) held a press conference on September 14 where they discussed the unfinished business of hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.   Read the full remarks here.

State Action

  • Rebuild Florida, a partnership between the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and HUD, is now accepting applications for the Housing Repair and Replacement Program. The program targets assistance to low and moderate income families by limiting eligibility to households with annual gross income that does not exceed 80% of the area median income, adjusted for family size. Qualifying properties include homes occupied by homeowners or renters located within the designated list of Most Impacted and Distressed Communities.  The Florida DEO addresses some basic information about the Program here.
  • The Puerto Rico Department of Housing and the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction, and Resiliency released a draft of the Substantial Amendment to the Puerto Rico Disaster Recovery Action Plans for distributing CDBG-DR funds. The draft amendment requests an additional allocation of $8.2 billion to address unmet needs for long-term recovery from the effects of the 2017 disasters. HUD requirements are available in the August 14, 2018 Federal Register. The announcement (en español) from the Puerto Rico Department of Housing includes locations, dates, and times for upcoming public hearings on the Substantial Amendment draft. Comments from the public are being accepted now through October 21, 2018 and can be submitted online at http://www.cdbg-dr.pr.gov/contact/, via telephone to (787) 274-2527, by email to infoCDBG@vivienda.pr.gov, or in writing to Puerto Rico CDBG-DR Program, P.O. Box 21365, San Juan, PR 00928-1365.
  • The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) announced that it will hold a series of meetings between October 2 and October 11 in five communities across the state to discuss proposed recovery programs, program eligibility, and timelines for funding. A factsheet detailing the state’s plan for deploying CDBG-DR funds is available online.

Local Perspectives 

  • According to reporting from the New York Times, disaster recovery efforts in Puerto Rico failed to take into account the poverty that affected the island before the storm. The article highlights stories of residents in Punta Santiago who continue living in uninhabitable, unsanitary, and unsafe homes. Additionally, FEMA’s efforts in Puerto Rico are compared with disaster recovery efforts in Texas, where “FEMA spent nearly twice as much for housing repair grants . . . though the money went to 51,000 fewer people.”
  • DHRC partner Adi Martinez of Fundación Fondo de Acceso a la Justicia was quoted in the Miami Herald and the New York Daily News. Both articles provide information on how federal aid has been denied to residents of Puerto Rico based on regulations that require recipients to provide a title or deed to prove property or home ownership. Many Puerto Rican residents do not have formal documents for their owned property, and so these residents have been denied FEMA assistance.  
  • A story by Orlando-based NPR affiliate WMFE detailed the experiences of Hurricane Maria evacuees from Puerto Rico–now located in Florida, who were evicted from their hotels after a U.S. District Court Judge ordered the FEMA Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) Program to end on September 13. According to the article, central Florida’s stock of affordable housing is limited, and survivors are struggling to identify available units.
  • A blog post by DHRC member Texas Housers describes the ongoing housing challenges facing the low-income, majority African American neighborhood of Charlton Pollard, which was impacted by hurricanes Rita and Ike. The post compares Charlton Pollard’s experience to the ongoing recovery process of low-income communities in Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey.
  • The National Bureau of Economic Research published a paper last year that analyzed 90 years of natural disaster data. It identified an average increase of 1% in a county’s poverty rate post-disaster when those with resources leave; and those without, go deeper into poverty. 

Working Groups on Disaster Housing Recovery 

Puerto Rico

  • Next meeting:  October 16 at 3:00 pm EDT

Homelessness

  • Next meeting:   October 22 at 3:00 PM EDT

Data Transparency

  • Next meeting:   October 10 at 3:30 PM EDT

Policy

  • Next meeting:  October 2 at 12:30pm EDT

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

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