Disaster Housing Recovery Update – Friday, October 12, 2018

Hurricane Michael

  • NLIHC compiled initial estimates of the impact Hurricane Michael will have on low income communities. About 20% of the region lives below the poverty line, and as many as 80,000 families lacked transportation to evacuate. Nearly 130,000 affordable rental homes–43,000 of them subsidized, and over 200,000 mobile homes were in Hurricane Michael’s path. This new storm is sure to exacerbate the affordable housing crisis in Florida.
  • Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue were briefed on October 11 on the potential impacts Hurricane Michael could have on rural communities. USDA has a number or resources available to farmers and rural communities following major disasters, including a disaster assistance discovery tool.

Florida

  • President Trump issued a major disaster declaration for Florida (DR-4399) on October 11. Residents in five counties are eligible for Individual Assistance and Public Assistance: Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Taylor, and Wakulla. In addition to these five, Calhoun, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, and Taylor counties are eligible for Public Assistance (A-B). This declaration enables survivors and public and private organizations to access financial assistance to recover from the storm.
  • About three-fourths of all residences in the impacted counties in the Panhandle were built before 2000 (before more stringent building codes were enacted in Florida), and about 22% of all occupied dwellings are mobile homes.
  • The Florida Division of Emergency Management is maintaining a list of open shelters. The Department currently reports over 1,900 people staying in 18 shelters.

Georgia

  • President Trump issued an emergency declaration for Georgia (EM-3406) on October 11. This provides assistance for state, tribal, and local governments to provide debris removal and emergency protective measures and covers 31 counties.

Hurricane Florence

  • Heavy rains and high winds from Hurricane Michael have set back some recovery efforts and increased the need for temporary housing in the Carolinas. Fortunately, the path was slightly different, sparing much of North Carolina’s eastern coast, which was greatly impacted during Hurricane Florence.

North Carolina

FEMA

  • FEMA reports that 8,000 homeowners and almost 7,500 renters have received rental assistance through various FEMA programs.

State Government

  • The North Carolina Department of Public Safety reports that 419 households (1,239 people) are staying in hotels through the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program, and over 26,000 homeowners and renters have received housing assistance through FEMA.

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

Disaster Housing Recovery Update – Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Hurricane Michael

Florida

FEMA

The President approved Florida’s request for pre-landfall emergency declaration (EM-3405) for Hurricane Michael on October 9. Under the Title V of the Stafford Act, the declaration authorizes FEMA to provide assistance to state and local governments for debris removal and emergency protective measures to “save lives and protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe.”  

State Action

The Florida Department of State issued a memorandum extending the voter registration deadline for any paper voter registration applications for the 2018 General Election relative to any Supervisor of Elections’ offices closed on October 9.

Resources

  • Governor Scott activated the Florida Disaster Fund for Hurricane Michael, described as “the State of Florida’s official private fund established to assist Florida’s communities as they respond to and recover during times of emergency or disaster.” Donations may be made by credit card through the Florida Disaster Fund website http://www.floridadisasterfund.org/
  • The State of Florida is currently reporting that 32 shelters are open. To find updated information on the location and status of shelters throughout the state, go to FloridaDisaster.Org/shelter-status/.

Alabama

  • Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued a statewide State of Emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Michael on October 8. A list of emergency shelters in the state is available here and here.

Georgia

  • Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued an executive order declaring a State of Emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Michael on October 9. Read the press release here. The State of Emergency was expanded on October 10, now including 108 counties. Governor Deal has also called the Georgia National Guard up to State Active Duty to assist in the preparation, response, and recovery efforts associated with Hurricane Michael within the state of Georgia. Additional information about the state’s response is available through the Georgia Emergency Management Agency’s website.

South Carolina

  • South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster announced on October 10 that the state would remain in a State of Emergency due to the continued flooding from Hurricane Florence and potential impact from Hurricane Michael, which is expected to weaken to a tropical storm by the time it affects South Carolina on Thursday. Additional information is available through the South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s website.

North Carolina

  • North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency and waived transportation rules in anticipation of Hurricane Michael. The State of Emergency is in effect for 66 counties in North Carolina and may be expanded.

General

  • The USDA issued a press release on Wednesday, October 9 that outlines resources available through the Department to respond to Hurricane Michael. The announcement included links to USDA’s recently launched disaster assistance discovery tool through its new website Farmers.gov
  • Airbnb has activated its Disaster Response and Relief operation. According to the company’s website, over 244 hosts have opened their homes for free from October 8 to October 29 to assist displaced neighbors and relief workers deployed to help.

Hurricane Florence

North Carolina

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved 23,324 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $84.6 million for the Individual and Households (IHP) program. Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • According to a FEMA fact sheet about Direct Temporary Housing programs, FEMA is providing recreation vehicles (RVs) and manufactured housing units as temporary housing options for survivors in North Carolina. Currently, only nine counties are approved for Direct Housing assistance: Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Duplin, Jones, Onslow, Pender, and Robeson.
  • FEMA reports that 8,000 homeowners and almost 7,500 renters have received rental assistance from FEMA.

State Action

  • In a press briefing on Hurricane Michael, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced the estimated cost of damages from Hurricane Florence totaled nearly $13 billion. The Governor plans to recommend a long term funding package and request a down payment of $750 million into the Florence Recovery Fund. The full budget recommendation is available here, and the related press release is available here.

Local Perspectives & Resources

Over 100 of the more than 300 housing units at public housing complex Trent Court in New Bern, NC, are still uninhabitable. Local aldermen and public housing authority officials are working with HUD to receive emergency vouchers for displaced tenants.

South Carolina

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved 3,058 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $10.3 million for the Individual and Households (IHP) program. Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers in Chesterfield, Dillon, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, and Marlboro counties will be closed starting at 7 PM Wednesday through Friday at 9 AM due to Hurricane Michael and poor weather conditions.

Local Perspectives & Resources

  • Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) stock in North Carolina and South Carolina was “relatively unscathed” by Hurricane Florence, according to an article in Housing Finance.  According to the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority, there have been “no indications of damaged LIHTC properties in the state.” Within the 28 counties in North Carolina affected by Florence, less than 400 of the 18,000 LIHTC units were impacted by the storm. 2017 Disasters

Federal Response

Congress

  • The Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition shared its Top Priorities for any Disaster Recovery Package with Congress as it prepares the next disaster relief package for the communities impacted by Hurricane Florence. The document, developed by the Policy Working Group, includes twelve specific recommendations to Congress on how to enhance the federal response to housing needs following natural disasters. The recommendations to Congress include:
    • Provide robust disaster recovery funding and housing assistance for people with the greatest needs;
    • Require all damaged or destroyed federally subsidized affordable rental homes to be replaced on a one-for-one basis;
    • Ensure that federal disaster recovery dollars are used equitably to address housing and infrastructure needs, as well as the needs of homeowners, renters, and people experiencing homelessness;
    • Support innovative, cost-effective housing solutions;
    • Promote contracting and jobs for low income disaster survivors and businesses; and
    • Prepare for the next disaster; by authorizing long-term disaster recovery legislation.

HUD

  • HUD Deputy Secretary Pam Patenaude discussed the department’s role in disaster recovery in HousingWire’s podcast 6 Questions with 6 HUD Executives. Secretary Patenaude explained her dual role at HUD, where she splits her time between disaster recovery and policymaking. Regarding HUD’s role in the recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, she explained that prior to the hurricane, over one quarter of a million people in Puerto Rico relied on HUD every day, given HUD’s large footprint in the Territory – with over 50,000 public housing units, 117,000 FHA-backed homeowners, 33,000 rental units under the Housing Choice Voucher program, and over 25,000 privately owned rental units in the Project-Based Section 8 program.

State Action

  • The Texas Land Commissioner announced on October 8 that the General Land Office (GLO) approved all nine methods of distribution (MODs) proposed by the regional Councils of Governments for Hurricane Harvey recovery. To review the approved MODs, visit Recovery.Texas.gov. The MODs have faced criticism from advocates, given the distribution of funds based solely on storm impact without taking into account how pre-existing community needs may have contributed to worse conditions. Learn more about the critiques from a blog post by Texas Housers.
  •  The State of Florida released a draft of its Substantial Amendment to the Florida Disaster Recovery Action Plan for distributing Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds related to Hurricane Irma. HUD requirements are available in the August 14, 2018 Federal Register.

Local Perspectives

  • An article in El Nuevo Día featured information on the Puerto Rico Bar Association’s initiative to provide assistance to families in appealing denials by FEMA to the Individual Assistance program because of issues related to property titles.

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:   November 7 at 3:30 PM EDT

Policy

  • Next meeting:  October 16 at 12:30pm EDT

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

2018 Hurricanes Disaster Housing Recovery Updates – Tuesday, October 9, 2018

North Carolina

FEMA

State Government

  • The North Carolina Department of Public Safety reports that 405 households (1,189 people) are checked in to hotels through FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program, and FEMA has completed 81,266 home inspections.
  • Governor Roy Cooper directed $25 million from the North Carolina Education Lottery Fund to speed repairs to public schools damaged during Hurricane Florence.

Local Perspectives & Resources

  • The Red Cross reversed its decision to close a shelter yesterday and is keeping it open since it served as the only safe option for about 40 people. Many survivors are still unable to return to damaged homes or have been evicted because of the storm. Other shelters are also working to find homes for the remaining survivors as they prepare to close.
  • Families in Burgaw, a community in Pender County, North Carolina, have no running water or electricity following severe damage to the majority of the community’s homes.

South Carolina

State Government

  • A State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Center opens in Florence County tomorrow, October 10.
  • Governor Henry McMaster held Marlboro Team South Carolina Day today in Bennettsville.
  • One emergency shelter remains open in South Carolina.

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

Hurricane Florence Disaster Housing Recovery Updates – Friday, October 5, 2018

North Carolina

FEMA

  • FEMA reports that more than 22,000 North Carolina homeowners and renters have received housing assistance of some kind, and 14,000 have received financial rental assistance. FEMA has completed almost 72,000 home inspections as part of the process to determine if an applicant is eligible for assistance. FEMA also provided a specific break-down of recovery efforts in Pender County.
  • A new State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Center opened in Lenoir County.

State Government

  • Governor Roy Cooper on Wednesday signed two bills providing relief after Hurricane Florence. The legislation provides flexibility for schools, protects voter access, and allocates $56.5 million for initial relief and recovery efforts. 
  • The North Carolina Office of the Governor is encouraging renters who face eviction or have been evicted to apply for disaster assistance from FEMA. Staff at recovery centers can help displaced renters find housing solutions.

Local Perspectives & Resources

  • The NC Realtors Housing Foundation will provide $550,000 for housing assistance grants to cover one month’s rent or mortgage payment (up to $1,500). Applications can be found here.
  • Hurricane Florence has exposed some of North Carolina’s economic and racial divides. Many of the places impacted by the storm are home to some of the poorest communities in the state as well as sizeable Latinx and Native American communities. An op-ed from the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center advocates for equitable disaster recovery.

South Carolina

FEMA

  • Three more State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers, located in Marion, Marlboro, and Georgetown counties, opened this week.

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

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