Disaster Housing Recovery Update -Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Hurricane Michael

  • The National Employment Law Project has created a fact sheet for workers impacted by Hurricane Michael about how they can access Disaster Unemployment Assistance. There are also a number of other disaster-related resources on its webpage.

Florida

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved 9,292 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $38.1 million for all Individuals and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • New State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers are open in Liberty, Gadsden, Washington, Leon, Jackson, Holmes, and Franklin counties.
  • FEMA published a map of Mobile Registration Intake Centers (MRIC) deployed across the Florida Panhandle to assist Hurricane Michael survivors in applying for FEMA assistance and to make referrals to community partners. There are currently 11 MRICs listed.

State Action

  • Governor Rick Scott announced that utility providers are aiming to have nearly all power restored by early November. The electrical infrastructure in Calhoun and Jackson counties required a rebuild, and over half of customers in these areas are still without power. More than 400,000 households were without power following the storm – that number is now closer to 47,700.
  • An update from Governor Scott reports 1,480 people are staying in the nine shelters that remain open. The update also states that Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is working with the Capital Area Action Agency to allow people in Franklin County to use surplus FEMA trailers while also looking for other temporary housing solutions.
  • The  Department of Health and Human Services has activated the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program  (EPAP) to allow uninsured Floridians free replacements of certain medical supplies, equipment, and medications lost or damaged by Hurricane Michael through November 15. Survivors can visit www.phe.gov/epap or call 855-793-7470 for more information.
  • The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has extended special Medicaid exceptions for recipients who reside in one of the 12 Hurricane Michael disaster-designated counties through November 9.
  • The Florida Healthy Kids Corporation announced that it will cover KidCare insurance premiums for November, December, and January for families in the 12 counties impacted by Hurricane Michael. Coverage renewals for these families will also be extended until February 1, 2019.

Local Perspectives and Resources

  • The executive director of the Panama City Housing Authority told reporters that half of their 450 homes will be condemned following Hurricane Michael. The housing authority is still determining how many voucher holders will need to relocate from their current homes. Low income tenants in the area are struggling to find viable options for shelter and many are still waiting to hear from FEMA.
  • The Tampa Bay Times reports that 928 people are still unaccounted for two weeks after Hurricane Michael. The Red Cross believes this is an overestimation of the true number of missing individuals since people do not always follow up on missing people reports.

Georgia

  • FEMA has approved 1,119 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $3.3 million for all Individuals and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • Governor Nathan Deal has called for a special legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly to amend the state budget to cover recovery and relief activities. The special session is set to begin on November 13.

Hurricane Florence

North Carolina

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved 29,781 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $104.8 million for all Individuals and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • Bertie, Davidson, and Orange counties are now eligible for Public Assistance (Categories A – G). Pitt County is also now eligible for all categories of Public Assistance. Categories A & B provide reimbursement for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and other costs associated with responding to a disaster. Categories C – G provide funding for repairing and replacing damaged or destroyed infrastructure.
  • FEMA issued a public notice of its intent to provide assistance and grants through the Individual Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant programs.
  • FEMA published two fact sheets on assistance in North Carolina. One discusses how FEMA determines if a home has “insufficient damage” and denies assistance. Denial of FEMA assistance can always be appealed. The other discusses the availability of funeral assistance.

State Response

  • A new ReBuild NC application center has opened in Pender County. ReBuild NC provides assistance to Hurricane Matthew survivors, including those who suffered damages during both Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

Local Perspective and Resources

  • Renters in Wilmington, NC, continue to struggle with the extreme housing shortage they face following Hurricane Florence. About 1,000 people were displaced after a large apartment complex closed earlier this week. Many Wilmington residents are being forced to move several counties away to find any housing option, and those with limited resources have even more limited options.

South Carolina

  • FEMA has approved 4,394 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $18.4 million for all Individuals and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • FEMA encourages renters in South Carolina impacted by Hurricane Florence to apply for disaster assistance. Renters are eligible for a number of FEMA programs, including rent to secure temporary housing, help with medical expenses, and funds to repair or replace vehicles.

2017 Disasters

Federal Response

  • HUD awarded nearly $50 million in supplemental funding for Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) to public housing authorities (PHAs) impacted by the 2017 natural disasters in Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, and California. The additional funding was announced on Friday, October 19, in a HUD press release. The amount for each PHA varied, with the largest allocation of $29.3 million going to Miami-Dade Public Housing and Community Development. Fourteen PHAs in Puerto Rico received $5,311,812–$3,088,965 of which was awarded to the Municipality of San Juan. Texas received a total of $4,005,726 for the Housing Authority of Port Arthur, Aransas Pass Housing Authority, and Corpus Christi Housing Authority. Finally, California received $3,475,850 for the following PHAs: Mendocino County, County of Sonoma, City of Santa Rosa.
  • FEMA published an online portal with up-to-date “information on available grants and funding opportunities, community housing initiatives, sustainability and environmental measures, training modules and community planning and capacity building programs.” Resources on the portal may be helpful for governments, nonprofits, and survivors of Hurricane Harvey.

State Action

  • Texas General Land Office (GLO) posted Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP) Regional Housing Guidelines for the South East Texas Region, HGAC-W/Lower Colorado Region, HGAC-E/Gulf Coast Region, and Deep East Texas Region. The Texas GLO allocated $1.098 billion of the total allocation of Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds for HAP and the rehabilitation and reconstruction of owner-occupied single-family homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey. The GLO is accepting public comments on the guidelines until 5:00 p.m. on November 18, 2018.
  • The California Department of Housing and Community Development posted a factsheet (Spanish version) and slides (Spanish version) from a series of public briefings held between October 2 and 11 on the State Action Plan for CDBG-DR funds allocated by HUD for California residents impacted by the 2017 wildfires, mudflows, and debris flows. The action plan will be posted here once it is available.
  • Legal Aid Puerto Rico, NLIHC, and partners submitted comments (Spanish version) on the Draft Substantial Amendment to the approved Action Plan for the use of CDBG-DR funds in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Department of Housing, the agency responsible for deploying CDBG-DR funds in Puerto Rico, will respond to and include all public comments in the draft Substantial Amendment when it is submitted to HUD for final evaluation and approval no later than November 18, 2018. The comments include recommendations to increase transparency, opportunities for meaningful public engagement and prioritize the use of CDBG-DR funds in alignment with broader governmental public policy goals related to community development and long-term recovery. Additional recommendations include incorporating procedures for working with HUD to ensure that the Sworn Declaration document–developed by DHRC partners in Puerto Rico with FEMA–will be accepted in cases where formal title documents are unavailable. The comments urge the government of Puerto Rico to identify how new programs created with the second allocation of CDBG-DR funding would address the unmet housing needs of vulnerable and low to moderate income individuals.

Local Perspectives

  • An article by the Houston Chronicle reported that the City of Houston will ask Congress for an additional $2 billion to help residents whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Harvey. According to the article, original estimates for the amount of aid that would be needed was based on the number of recipients of FEMA’s Individual Assistance program. Tom McCasland, director of the Houston Housing and Community Development Department, was quoted in the article saying, “we’re chronically undercounting the most vulnerable populations . . . that’s why it’s important not to start with FEMA.”
  • CityLab featured an article about The City of Houston’s attempt to distribute recovery funds more fairly using a new data-driven approach.
  • Pew published a report in June titled, “What We Don’t Know about State Spending on Natural Disasters Could Cost Us: Data limitations, their implications for policymaking, and strategies for improvement.” The report found that states do not comprehensively track natural disaster spending and that state spending is highly variable. Additionally, researchers found that multiple agencies within states that spend money on disasters track their activities and spending differently, making state-level data difficult to compare across jurisdictions and programs. To meet federal and state informational needs, Pew recommends that policymakers at both levels of government make a commitment to improve data collection, document spending by disaster phase, and ensure that tracking efforts include local spending.

Working Groups

  • Puerto Rico: Next meeting: November 20 at 3:00 pm EDT
  • Homelessness: Next meeting: TBD
  • Data Transparency: Next meeting: November 7 at 3:30 PM EDT
  • Policy: Next meeting: October 30 at 12:30pm EDT

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

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