Disaster Housing Recovery Updates – Wednesday, October 3, 2018

North Carolina

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved 21,350 Individual Assistance applications and over $77 million total for Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.

USDA

  • Residents in Greene County, North Carolina, are now also eligible for the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP). A full list of participating counties and benefits can be found here.

State Government

  • Governor Roy Cooper has launched a new program – Back@Home – to help those still in disaster shelters or unsafe, unstable environments to quickly transition to safe and sustainable longer-term housing. The program is for those receiving little or no Individual Assistance through FEMA and provides help finding a home, financial assistance, and other supplies and resources, as needed. The program is a partnership between several state agencies and nonprofits.

Local Perspectives & Resources

  • A local news source reports that 129 people remain in a Cumberland County shelter, which is scheduled to close on Friday. Although residents are eligible for Individual Assistance, Cumberland is not one of the 9 counties where residents can apply for Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA).
  • Local leaders in Beaufort are holding a housing fair on Saturday from 9 am – 3 pm to help residents find long-term housing solutions following the storm.
  • The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency and the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness offer resources for hurricane survivors at their respective websites.

South Carolina

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved 2,677 Individual Assistance applications (IA) and $7.5 million total for Individuals and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • Residents in Chesterfield and Darlington are now eligible to apply for Individual Assistance.

State Government

  • Local, state, and federal agencies will be available during the Chesterfield Team South Carolina Day to help residents of Chesterfield County impacted by the storm secure the resources they need for recovery. The event will be held in Cheraw, SC on Thursday, October 4 from 9 am – 3 pm. Additional Team South Carolina Days will be announced soon.

2017 Disasters

Federal Response

Congress

  • Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Tina Smith (D-MN) sent a letter to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), urging the Committee to hold hearings to assess the impact and challenges of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on the health and educational systems of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

FEMA

  • The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) Watchblog featured a blog post on September 27 that provides an overview of how FEMA’s Individual Assistance program works. The post features a flowchart outlining how the individual assistance, public assistance, and hazard mitigation assistance funds are activated and distributed. The blog post is based on a GAO report from May 2018 titled, Individual Assistance Requests Often Granted but FEMA Could Better Document Factors Considered.
  • FEMA published a Fact Sheet with information on how people with disabilities can prepare for disasters. The Fact Sheet links to a Ready.gov resource page with specific steps that individuals with functional needs can take when planning for a disaster.

HUD

  • Enterprise Community Partners sent a letter to Neal Rackleff, Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD-CPD) outlining ten recommendations for maximizing HUD investments in disaster mitigation. The recommendations “seek to provide context, requirements, and incentives that would allow HUD and grantees to have a greater impact in reducing risk to natural hazards for a generation or more.”
  • A toolkit for recipients of CDBG-DR allocation funds is available through the HUD Exchange website. The toolkit includes guidance on how to launch and implement CDBG-DR programs and was developed by ICF and HUD based on work with CDBG-DR grantees.

Local Perspectives

  • An article in Bloomberg BNA discusses multiple new laws enacted to ”give new power to the fire marshal to enforce fire-safe zoning measures; require insurers to report on rate increases, surcharges, and denials in high-risk fire areas; and mandate battery backups in garage door openers.” The Bohemian, a local northern California periodical, also reported on the 28 fire-related bills passed by the California state legislature since the October 2017 wildfires.
  • According to an article in Capitol Weekly on the federal and state response following the 2017 California wildfires, FEMA received 25,425 registrations for interim housing, of which only 866 were fulfilled. The article points to the state’s existing shortage of affordable housing stock as exacerbating the challenges of locating adequate and affordable temporary housing after the disasters.
  • An article in CityLab discusses the possibility of flaws in the method of distribution (MOD) used by the Texas General Land Office in its Harvey Action Plan, which distributed funds based solely on storm impact, not taking into account how pre-existing community need may have contributed to worse conditions. According to the article, the “. . . three cities with the highest black populations are also the three cities with the very lowest funding . . . and those cities had a lot of people who were impacted who were extremely low income.”

Resources

  • DisasterLegalAid.org–a collaboration between Pro Bono Net, Lone Star Legal Aid, and the Equal Justice Works Disaster Recovery Legal Corps–will host two webinars this month.
    • The first webinar, Community-Based Strategies and Lawyering in the Wake of Natural Disasters, will take place on October 11 at 3:00 p.m. EDT. To register, click here.  The speakers are Ariadna Godreau-Aubert and Mariel Quiñones Mundo of Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico and Jean-Luc Adrien, Equal Justice Works, Disaster Recovery Legal Corps Fellow at Community Justice Project.
    • The second webinar roundtable, Ready, Willing, & Able: Organizing the Legal Community’s Response to Disasters, will take place on October 24 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. EDT.  To register, click here.
  • Ayuda Legal PR, which provides education and free, accessible legal assistance to low-income persons in Puerto Rico, recently launched a new website, RecuperacionJustaPR. The website is in Spanish and includes resources and information on how advocates and citizens can participate in the upcoming public hearings to determine the use of close to $20 billion in CDBG-DR funds for long term reconstruction of communities affected by the 2017 disasters.

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 9 at 12:30pm EDT

 


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

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