Disaster Housing Recovery Update -Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Hurricane Michael

  • During a tour on Monday through impacted areas in Florida and Georgia, President Trump praised the federal and state response and said he would ask Congress for additional emergency disaster aid. Congress recently approved $1.68 billion for disaster recovery and is likely to pass additional aid following the November midterm elections.
  • Through October 18, Sprint has waived call, text, and data overage fees for wireless customers impacted by Hurricane Michael.

Florida

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved over 1,000 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $4.2 million for all Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • Residents of Leon County are now eligible to apply for Individual Assistance through FEMA.
  •  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is assisting homeowners with temporary roof repairs through the Operation Blue Roof program, which provides blue plastic sheeting as a temporary covering to prevent additional damage.

USDA

  • USDA has granted Florida the ability to approve automatic mass replacements of SNAP benefits at 40% for residents of counties and zip codes who experienced power outages and flooding. If a household lost more than 40% of food purchased with the October allotment, they can request and submit Form 3515 (Food Assistance Replacement Authorization) as soon as possible. SNAP recipients outside the designated areas may also request a replacement by filing an affidavit with their local office.

State Action

  • Pharmacies in Alabama and Georgia are now authorized to offer prescription refills to survivors of Hurricane Michael.
  • Residents in any county approved for Individual Assistance are eligible to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). The deadline to apply is November 14. The Florida DEO will also administer the National Dislocated Worker Grant, which provides temporary employment opportunities that support storm response and recovery efforts.

Local Perspectives and Resources

  • A legal aid hotline for Hurricane Michael is now open: 1-866-550-2929

Georgia

FEMA

  • Residents in seven additional counties (Crisp, Grady, Lee, Mitchell, Terrell, Thomas, and Worth) are now eligible to apply for Individual Assistance through FEMA.
  • Food and water distribution centers can be found here and a map of shelters can be found here.

Hurricane Florence

  • HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta joined members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation to tour the impact of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, NC.

North Carolina

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved 28,581 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and almost $100 million for all Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • Residents in Anson, Orange, and Union counties are now eligible for IA through FEMA. Survivors who require accommodations or additional assistance can find resources here.
  • The State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Pender County relocated, and the DRC in Harnett County will close tomorrow, October 18.
  • FEMA has given final notice to the public that it will place temporary housing units (THUs) on commercial or private sites located in or affecting a floodplain or wetland. Units will be placed on a survivor’s property when possible, and all THU installations are temporary and will comply with local, state, federal, and tribal laws and requirements.
  • FEMA encourages anyone who was displaced from their HUD-assisted housing to apply for FEMA assistance. These households may receive help from FEMA until they are relocated back to HUD-assisted or public housing or sign a new lease using a Housing Choice Voucher.
  • A fact sheet provides additional information on “duplication of benefits.” FEMA may consider any disaster assistance – including money from insurance, charities, or other government agencies – when determining the amount of FEMA assistance for a survivor. This does not include government benefits received prior to the disaster.
  • A FEMA infographic reports that 270,000 families received food assistance through Disaster-SNAP and SNAP and FEMA completed 87,000 home inspections. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety adds that FEMA has completed 98% of home inspections.

Local Perspectives and Resources

  • Community members in Wilmington demanded answers about housing assistance from City Council members. Several apartment complexes have closed due to unsafe conditions, leaving tenants with few options in an already tight rental market.

South Carolina

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved 4,187 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $17 million for all Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • A Mobile Disaster Recovery Center will be at four locations throughout Horry County during the month of October. Additionally, a new DRC opened in Darlington County.
  • The deadline for applying for a Small Business Administration loan is November 20.

State Action

  • Governor Henry McMaster issued an Executive Order (EO No. 2018-50) that creates the South Carolina Floodwater Commission. This commission will help improve coordination and communication between local, state, and federal agencies.

2017 Disasters

Federal Response

FEMA

  • FEMA issued a press release announcing that it had reimbursed the State of Texas through the Public Assistance grant program for mold removal and cleanout of the Port Arthur Housing Development Southwood Crossing Apartment complex following Hurricane Harvey.
  • FEMA released updated versions of county-by-county infographics showing the Hurricane Harvey response and rebuilding process with data through September 28, 2018. A statewide overview for Texas is also available, with data through October 1, 2018

HUD

  • Enterprise Community Solutions submitted a letter to the HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development containing ten recommendations for how to best guide and support grantees in their use of Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program funds for mitigation. According to the letter, “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.” NLIHC and the DHRC participated in the development of these recommendations.

State Action

  • Texas General Land Office (GLO) Commissioner George P. Bush announced the posting of Regional Housing Guidelines for the Homeowner Assistance Program for the Central/Golden Crescent Region and the Coastal Bend Council of Government (COG) Region. The draft guidelines are available for a 30-day public comment period, through November 11, 2018. Comments can be submitted to CDR@recovery.texas.gov.
  • Texas GLO announced the submission of Amendment 1 to the State Action Plan for Hurricane Harvey recovery to HUD for final approval on October 12. The amendment includes plans for the distribution and eligible uses of direct allocations totaling $2.3 billion for Harris County ($1.115 billion) and the City of Houston ($1.155 billion).
  • The draft of Puerto Rico’s Substantial Amendment to the Action Plan is still open for public comment until Sunday, October 21, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. Two public hearings remaining. For dates, times, and locations for the public hearings, as well as information on how to submit comments, click here (English version).
  • Public comments on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s amendment to its CDBG-DR State Action Plan are due by November 9th.  
  • The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Rebuild Florida mobile registration bus will be at three locations in the Florida Keys this week. The mobile center has case managers on hand to help low- and moderate-income residents whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. A flyer is available here.

Local Perspectives and Resources

  • Texas Housers points to a flawed, decentralized recovery effort in response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas in a new blog post. According to advocates, the reliance on local jurisdictions to supply 25% of the funding for hazard mitigation promotes “unequal recoveries to rebuild Texas at the expense of low-and-moderate-income people and communities of color.” The blog post highlights that “. . . larger cities and counties with deeper pockets are already at an advantage in applying for, securing, and matching these funds. The temptation for a city or county to redirect available CDBG funding from low- and moderate-income people to meet the match requirement is very high.” The article links to a map showing applications to the Texas Department of Emergency Management for funding through the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant program by request location.
  • Centro, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter CUNY released Rebuild Puerto Rico: A Guide to Federal Policy and Advocacy. The guide introduces a wide range of federal programs available for disaster relief and recovery, as well as non-disaster programs related to affordable housing and economic development. In addition to an overview of federal programs, the guide provides information on entry points for advocacy around specific programs. An overview of the document is available here.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is hosting a Community Town Hall: A Conversation on Disaster Recovery Featuring Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell and Dallas Fed President Robert S. Kaplan on November 15 from 10:00 a.m. – noon in Houston. Registration is open until November 9.
  • DHRC member Adi Martínez Román was quoted in an article in The Indiana Lawyer.com talking about the challenges presented by Hurricane Maria to Puerto Rican communities. The article highlights FEMA’s denial of 61% of applications for assistance by survivors as a result of FEMA’s determination that proof of homeownership was insufficient.
  • The Instituto Desarrollo Juventud (Youth Development Institute) released preliminary findings from a study commissioned by Estudios Técnicos, Inc. (ETI). Early analysis shows the substantial impact Hurricane Maria had on children in Puerto Rico.
  • DHRC member Jorge Luis Vasquez Jr. from LatinoJustice PRLDEF published an article in USA Today last month, describing his firsthand account of the conditions in Puerto Rico one year-post Hurricane Maria

Working Groups

  • Homelessness: Next Meeting: October 22 at 3:00 pm EDT
  • Policy: Next Meeting: October 23 at 12:30 pm EDT
  • Data Transparency: Next Meeting: November 7 at 3:30 pm EDT
  • Puerto Rico: Next Meeting: November 20 at 3:00 pm EDT

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

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