Disaster Housing Recovery Updates -Monday, December 3, 2018

 

General

  • All six senators from California, North Carolina, and Florida and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the “Hurricanes Florence and Michael and California Wildfire Tax Relief Act” (S. 3648) on November 16. The proposal would provide tax relief for survivors of the recent disasters by allowing those impacted to more easily claim the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credits, expanding Opportunity Zones, and implementing other assistance measures.

2018 Disasters

California Wildfires

Federal

  • Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited the Camp Fire site again on Monday, stating that the associated costs would likely be in the billions of dollars.
  • Federal and state financial regulatory agencies issued an interagency statement with information on practices for financial institutions and their customers affected by the California wildfires. The statement included an announcement that financial institutions may receive Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) consideration for “community development loans, investments, or services that revitalize or stabilize federally designated disaster areas.”

State Response

  • The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is working with owners of mobile homes and manufactured homes that were damaged in the fires to ensure they have proper documents. Survivors with damaged or destroyed manufactured homes should call 1.833.421.5990 (TDD: 1.800.735.2929) or email: ContactRT@hcd.ca.gov

Local Perspectives and Resources

  • Despite poor air quality from the Woolsey and Hill fires, thousands of farmworkers continued to workin the strawberry fields of Southern California. Many of these workers do not speak English – some only speak Aztecan languages – and are unable to communicate with their supervisors or understand safety warnings. Even when Ventura County closed schools and declared a health emergency, people were photographed still picking in the fields. Some companies did not distribute masks, and many workers complained they had difficulty breathing and had headaches and eye and throat irritation even after they were out of the fields. These low-wage workers cannot afford to miss a day of income or risk losing their jobs.
  • The CampFireButte.recovers.org site provides helpful information for survivors of the wildfires, including the locations of new shelter options.
  • Free legal assistance is available to survivors of the California wildfires in Butte, Ventura, and Los Angeles Counties. The Butte County free legal aid hotline is: 1-800-345-9491. The Ventura and Los Angeles County free legal aid hotline is: 1-877-301-4448.
  • Attorneys at The Larsen Law Firm are providing free legal advice to residents of Butte County and surrounding communities who have lost loved ones, suffered property damage, or incurred other costs related to the Northern California Camp Fire that began on November 8. The firm also created a resource guide with links to free housing resources as well as government and nonprofit disaster assistance application information.

Hurricane Michael

Florida

Federal

  • Okaloosa and Walton counties are now eligible for the Public Assistance program. Eligibility for Franklin, Holmes, Jefferson, Leon, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington Counties has been expanded from only Emergency Protective Measures and Debris Removal to all categories of Public Assistance.
  • Bay County residents with properties that might be suitable for housing FEMA trailers are encouraged to share that information through this online form.

State and Local

  • The deadline for Disaster Unemployment Assistance has been extended to December 7.

Local Perspectives and Resources

  • Travel trailers have finally arrived in Marianna, FL, for inspections before being set up for use by survivors. As FEMA slowly delivers these trailers to those left homeless by Hurricane Michael, survivors are sleeping in tent cities in Panama City. CBS News reports that more than 95,000 survivors have applied for FEMA assistance, but only about 25,000 have been approved for some form of housing assistance. Many low-income residents across the Panhandle have been left to wonder what relief, if any, they will receive that can help them rebuild their lives.
  • PBS News Hour reports that FEMA has approved 1,700 households for trailers, but had delivered only 40 in the six weeks since Hurricane Michael struck. Another 18,000 have been approved for rental assistance, but survivors are often unable to find an available home to rent since so much of the housing stock is damaged or destroyed. Survivors and officials continue to stress that housing remains the biggest issue following the storm.
  • Survivors with a felony face additional barriers to finding affordable housing, making their search for shelter following Hurricane Michael even more difficult.
  • Low-income residents with disabilities and medical needs in Florida are struggling to access health care in the wake of Hurricane Michael.
  • The last shelter in Bay County closed on November 30. At its peak, the shelter housed at least 700 people. As of November 28, 82 people remained, some of whom were previously homeless, and case workers were working to ensure all survivors had housing before the shelter closed.
  • Doorways of Northwest Florida may be able to assist Bay and Jackson county residents who were homeless before or are currently homeless as a result of Hurricane Michael. They currently have a temporary office at the Florida Department of Health (597 W. 11th St., Panama City) open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30am – 4:30pm. Survivors can also schedule an appointment by phone or email, although the organization currently has limited service.

Georgia

  • Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 1EX, which will provide $270 million in emergency funding for state and local governments in areas most heavily impacted by Hurricane Michael.

Hurricane Florence

North Carolina

Federal

  • Guilford and McDowell Counties are now eligible for Public Assistance.
  • FEMA released a fact sheet with information on how survivors of Hurricane Florence who received initial rental assistance may be eligible for continued support from FEMA. FEMA also issued a public notice announcing its intent to provide Individual Assistant (AI) funding for emergency housing that may impact a floodplain or wetland or be located in a floodplain. The notice also includes activities impacting historic preservation.

State and Local

  • North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper met with members of the North Carolina congressional delegation, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, and White House Homeland Security Advisor Rear Admiral Doug Fears to ask for additional federal assistance. In an interview about his visit, Governor Cooper identified housing as a key component of his requested assistance. He has asked Secretary Carson to allow survivors to use Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds to pay for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.

Local Perspectives and Resources

  • A second wave of displaced North Carolina residents are finding themselves newly homeless due to new eviction notices issued by at least six apartment complexes in New Hanover County. At least four of the complexes ordered to vacate are low-income housing complexes: The Glen, The Reserve, Jervay Apartments, and Market North.
  • Low-income residents displaced from their homes because of damage from Hurricane Florence are struggling to use their rental assistance to find temporary housing. The assistance amount is set, and many survivors cannot afford to pay the difference.
  • Many people in Pender County still need temporary housing before winter. Because several communities in the county are in the middle of a flood zone, FEMA has stated that placing trailers there would be too dangerous. While many have relocated, others have been staying in tents or campers next to their destroyed homes. FEMA has approved trailers for some households but is still working to make sure they are properly hooked up to utilities and placed in safe locations.

South Carolina

  • Governor Henry McMaster sent a letter on November 16 to South Carolina’s congressional delegation with a revised estimate of $607 million in federal funding for recovery efforts, including $108 million in CDBG-DR.

2017 Disasters

Federal Response

  • FEMA announced that it will host CADGeoCon 2019 on March 21-22 in Puerto Rico. The event is a two-day conference for members of the geospatial community who responded to challenges unique to the Caribbean in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Those interested in presenting should submit a one-page abstract of the proposed presentation and other materials by December 15, 2018.

State Action

  • The Texas General Land Office released on November 19 the second amendment to the $5.024 billion state Action Plan for Hurricane Harvey. This amendment incorporates the additional $652 million (allocated to Texas from the disaster supplemental passed in February) into the state action plan, including an extra $236 million for the Homeowner Assistance Program and $200 million for the Affordable Rental Program. The amendment is open for public comment through December 19.
  • The CDBG-DR Draft Action Plan (English versionSpanish version) for the 2017 California wildfires was published on November 12. The comment period for the draft will close at midnight on December 12. Round 2 of public meetings to discuss the Draft Action Plan for Disaster Recovery will take place from November 26 through December 5. For specific dates and times of the public meetings, click here(Spanish version).
  • Hurricane Irma Housing Repair and Replacement Program Guidelines for Single Family Housing Properties are posted in EnglishSpanish, and Creole on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DOE) website. The program guidelines for Rental Properties are listed as pending. Technical Questions and Answers regarding the implementation of CDBG-DR program funds are posted on the website as well.
  • The Puerto Rico Department of Housing submitted the substantial amendment to the Disaster Recovery Action Plan to HUD for final approval on November 18. The submission included public comments and responses.
  • Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló sent a letter to congressional leadership on November 19 asking for additional federal assistance for Hurricane Maria recovery efforts, including continued emergency funding for Medicaid, the Nutrition Assistance Program and emergency work like debris removal and building demolition. Governor Rosselló also asked that the entire island be designated as an Opportunity Zone, stating that some “critical areas where economic development is essential” do not currently qualify. The Opportunity Zones are a new tax-benefit-for-investment designation under the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.”

Local Perspectives and Resources

  • Officials in Houston, TX aim to get more than $1 billion in federal Hurricane Harvey recovery assistance contracts in place and reimbursement checks issued by Christmas.
  • According to the CEO of the Houston Coalition for the Homeless, about 18% of unsheltered people in Houston said they were homeless because of Hurricane Harvey.
  • Officials in Puerto Rico expect initial CDBG-DR funds to be distributed to municipalities in January or February of next year.
  • An article in the New York Times revealed that FEMA contractors in Puerto Rico are charging steep markups and overhead on repairs for the Tu Hogar Renace program, limiting the repairs that homeowners in Puerto Rico can receive. Puerto Rico Department of Housing’s records show that FEMA paid $3,700 each for generators that cost contractors $800 apiece to purchase. The records also reveal that FEMA paid $666 for each bathroom sink, but contractors purchased them for $260. FEMA also paid $4 per square foot for roof repairs, instead of the contractor price of $1.64 per square foot.
  • The Hurricane Harvey Registry – a venture of Rice University, Environmental Defense Fund and health departments in the city of Houston and Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery Counties – calls for residents to provide information about how Hurricane Harvey affected their health for the first in a series of public reports to be published early 2019. Residents have until December 21 to complete the survey.
  • Houston area restaurants and businesses that rely on low-wage workers are struggling to meet their staffing needs due to a lack of safe, affordable housing 15 months after Hurricane Harvey.
  • Marvin Odum, the former Shell Oil president who volunteered as Houston’s Hurricane Harvey recovery czar, will be stepping down from the position he occupied since 2016. He will be replaced by Steve Costello, an engineer and former councilman.

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

Disaster Housing Recovery Update -Monday, November 19, 2018

 

General

  • NLIHC and members of the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition held a webinar briefing for Congressional staff, members of the media, and advocates to share updates on the 2017 and 2018 disasters. More than 140 people participated. Speakers from California, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, and several national organizations discussed current conditions in the affected areas, the shortcomings of the federal government’s disaster response, and the impacts on the immediate and long-term housing recovery needs of the lowest income survivors and their communities. A recording of the webinar can be found at: https://bit.ly/2Q0a6TH

2018 Disasters

Hurricane Michael

Florida

Federal

  • A FEMA news release reminds renters in impacted areas that they are still eligible for disaster assistance even if they have been evicted or are facing eviction. The notice states that “renters who already registered for federal assistance and were later evicted due to damage should take the eviction notice to a disaster recovery center.”
  • FEMA published a fact sheet with information on the various forms of temporary housing assistance available to survivors of Hurricane Michael in Florida. It also states that the state of Florida and FEMA have approved several specific forms of Direct Temporary Housing: RVs for those with a housing need of six months or less; manufactured housing units (MHUs) for a longer-term solution; and multi-family lease and repair, whereby FEMA works with owners to make improvements to existing multi-family housing and provide short-term lodging for survivors.
  • FEMA reports it has completed nearly 62,000 home inspections, and more than 21,000 homeowners and renters have received some form of housing assistance. More than 900 families are staying in hotels and motels through the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program. DHRC partners on the ground in Florida continue to report a serious lack of temporary housing options for survivors displaced from their homes.
  • FEMA reminds survivors of Hurricane Michael with access and functional needs that Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are “equipped with accessible ramps, parking and restrooms . . . [and] provide one-on-one consultation and resources such as captioned phones and iPads linked to video-remote sign language interpreters. If a disaster survivor cannot travel to the DRC, FEMA will arrange a home visit.”

Deadlines:

  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance: November 16
  • Blue Roof Program assistance: November 16
  • Disaster Assistance and SBA loans: December 10
  • Requesting Pubic Assistance: December 14

State and Local

  • A Recover Bay County update reports that state and FEMA officials told county officials that approximately “2,500 trailers are being staged at the airport in Marianna, FL, and the first deliveries are to begin by November 18 to approved sites.” FEMA continues to look for staging sites for trailers, and the county is working with the agency to clear sites of debris. Families living in these units may be responsible for utility costs, although individual contracts vary. Although 53,935 families in Bay County have applied for disaster assistance, FEMA states that only 912 of them need housing support. As of the time this Memo was published, Florida Governor Rick Scott has not published disaster updates with additional information since November 7.
  • A month after Hurricane Michael hit, residents of the Florida Panhandle still experience frequent power outages, spotty cell and internet service, and unsafe living conditions. Local residents have stepped up to provide needed resources like storage, school supplies, and food.
  • The Jackson County chapter of the NAACP is working with residents of two housing developments near Marianna, FL – Orchard Pointe and Pebble Hill Estates. Management sent a letter to residents ordering them to leave the properties for repairs following Hurricane Michael. The letter did not include any promise that tenants would be able to return. NAACP lawyers noted that the landlords did not follow proper eviction laws, and the attorneys are attempting to ensure residents receive proper assistance.

Georgia

  • FEMA is hiring Georgia residents to work on the hurricane recovery effort. Contracts are for a term of 120 days with the possibility of extension.
  • A special legislative session has convened to discuss recovery efforts in Georgia following Hurricane Michael. The legislature will discuss providing emergency funding for state agencies and local governments and other recovery and rebuilding efforts. The special session started on November 13.
  • Residents of southwest Georgia are still living in hotels and waiting for assistance to repair their homes.

Alabama

  • President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for Alabama related to Hurricane Michael (DR-4406). The declaration covers four counties, but only for public assistance. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) sent a letter to President Trump on November 8 urging the administration to also approve Individual Assistance grants.

Hurricane Florence

North Carolina

Federal

  • FEMA advises impacted renters with a continued need for FEMA rental assistance that they can complete a “Declaration of Continuing Need for Rental Assistance” to receive additional financial support. All eligible survivors should have received this document, but they can contact the disaster assistance helpline (800-621-3362) with questions or requests for an additional copy.
  • FEMA published an FAQ on Direct Housing for households impacted by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina. The document provides information about the timeline and process for receiving a temporary housing unit. An additional fact sheet encourages displaced residents to use any FEMA funds to pay for temporary shelter, like a hotel or motel room. Survivors should save receipts to ensure they can be reimbursed.

State and Local

  • The North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) reports that 391 households are checked into hotels through FEMA’s TSA program and 21 people remain in two shelters. NCDPS also reports that 132,681 people have applied for disaster assistance, and FEMA has completed 96,666 home inspections.
  • Undocumented farmworkers in North Carolina continue to struggle and live in fear following Hurricane Florence. Many people remain afraid to ask for help, so measuring the number of undocumented residents who lack housing or food is difficult. Community leaders are working to ensure these families have stable housing as they learn of households living with toxic levels of mold or leaking roofs.
  • A dedicated HUD employee is ensuring that people staying in a shelter in New Bern have new homes before the shelter closes.

South Carolina


2017 Disasters

State Action

  • NLIHC – on behalf of the DHRC – recently submitted comments to the State of Florida regarding the amendment to the State Action Plan for Hurricane Irma. The Community Justice Project is collecting all submitted comments here.

Local Perspectives and Resources

  • A City & State New York article details the outcomes of the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort, led by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to support evacuees from Puerto Rico displaced by Hurricane Maria. These relief efforts included $1 million to provide survivors affordable housing and another $10 million for job training and placement.
  • The Huffington Post published an article about the challenges faced by low income renters following a disaster. The article explains how disasters repeatedly create or exacerbate housing shortages with many low income renters falling through the cracks.
  • A local New York news outlet, Pix11, featured a story about 65-year-old Rosa Rodriguez, a survivor of Hurricane Maria who was displaced to New York City and is now homeless.
  • A study titled The Unequal Vulnerability of Communities of Color to Wildfire was published in the journal PLoS One on November 2. Using a social-ecological perspective of fire-prone landscapes, the researchers found that “census tracts that were majority Black, Hispanic or Native American [experienced an approximately] 50% greater vulnerability to wildfire compared to other census tracts.” The study was cited in a New York Times article.

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

Disaster Housing Recovery Update -Monday, November 12, 2018

 

Hurricane Michael

Florida

  • FEMA published several factsheets that provide information about why applicants may not have received FEMA assistance. FEMA can deny assistance if an inspection finds “insufficient damage” to the home. Inspectors decide if a home is still safe, sanitary, and functional, which covers basics such as toilets, a roof, utilities, windows, and doors. Applicants can appeal FEMA’s decision to deny assistance because of insufficient damage but need third-party documentation.
  • Florida Department of Education (FDOE) has an up-to-date list of school closure and reopening dates.

Georgia

  • FEMA encourages renters in Georgia displaced by Hurricane Michael to apply for federal disaster assistance, which could provide financial help for rent, moving expenses, and child care. The deadline to apply for federal assistance in Georgia is December 13.
  • Residents of 20 Georgia counties are now eligible for Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP). D-SNAP provides a month of benefits to help families meet their food needs following a disaster.

Hurricane Florence

North Carolina

  • Many of the 220 residents of Trent Court, a public housing complex in New Bern, are still waiting to learn when they might be able to return to their homes. Displaced residents have been relocated or are staying with family or friends.
  • An article in the Carolina Public Press highlights the impact Hurricane Florence has had on rural inland areas of the state like Chatham County and the town of Robbins.

South Carolina

  • According to insurancejournal.com, residents of Cheraw, SC, are suing Highland Industries for “failing to clean up a toxic mess” which was exacerbated by over two feet of flooding caused by Hurricane Florence. The lawsuit was also featured by the Greenville News.

Hurricane Florence

Federal Response

  • FEMA and the Government of Puerto Rico have opened Community Recovery Centers (CRCs) throughout the territory. According to a FEMA press release, “representatives from local and volunteer agencies are available at centers across the island to provide assistance with housing repairs, commodities and clothing, rental resources, FEMA case review, emotional and spiritual wellness services and legal services.”

State Action

  • The City of Houston announced it removed the income cap for one of the Harvey Homeowner Assistance Programs (HoAPs) in a new version of the HoAP guidelines, which is open for public comment until November 30. The revised plan removes the 120% of area median income (AMI) income cap for the reimbursement program, making $150 million available to families above the 120% of AMI threshold. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner stated that more than 80% of the overall funding “will be available for families who are low- and moderate-income.”

Local Perspectives and Resources

  • Advocates from Texas groups working on disaster recovery – including several from NLIHC state partner and Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition member Texas Housers – recently traveled to Puerto Rico to meet with their counterparts on the island. The Texas and Puerto groups discussed recovery issues their communities have faced and shared best practices and strategies to ensure equitable recovery.
  • Researchers at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) are studying the impacts of Hurricane Irma as part of the Communities in Transition Initiative. Research topics include flood mitigation, resiliency traditions, avoiding water contamination, and medical outcomes. Learn more about the research projects here.
  • An article published by NBC News chronicles the ongoing challenges of rebuilding homes destroyed by Hurricane Maria on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.
  • A story in the Victoria Advocate follows a Texas mother and her seven children who found themselves homeless in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The story is the second installment in a series called “Hidden in Plain Sight,” which examines how Hurricane Harvey could exacerbate wealth inequality in South Texas.
  • The National Center on Law & Elder Rights published a “Practice Tip document with information on how to help homeowners to access insurance benefits after a disaster.
  • Disaster Legal Aid is hosting a virtual group discussion on Tuesday November 13 at 4:00 p.m. ET to discuss “Disaster Legal Aid & Insurance.” The meeting will be relevant for legal aid staff, pro bono attorneys, and public interest advocates engaged in disaster-relief efforts.

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

Disaster Housing Recovery Update -Friday, November 2, 2018

Hurricane Michael

Florida

FEMA

  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will stop collecting Right of Entry forms for Operation Blue Roof on November 11 at 6 PM local time. Installations of Blue Roofs will continue until they are complete.
  • A State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Center is now open in Bay County.

Local Perspectives & Resources

  • The Florida Association of Centers for Independent Living (FACIL) sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott on October 30 asking him to address the unmet needs and civil rights violations of people with disabilities impacted by Hurricane Michael. Many individuals left behind medicine or mobility aids that allow them to live independently. FACIL asks Governor Scott for additional resources to ensure the 40,000 – 150,000 households with at least one member with a disability are not unlawfully institutionalized. Groups in the Panhandle report that people with disabilities have been moved from living independently to nursing homes–a violation of their civil rights. 
  • The Bay County commissioner told local media that about 50,000 people in the county have applied for assistance with FEMA, but only 100 have been approved for some type of direct housing assistance.
  • The Florida Department for Children and Families will verify the identity of all D-SNAP applicants. Survivors’ identity can be verified electronically or by sharing a photo ID (license, state ID, passport, etc.) or in some cases a birth certificate, health insurance card, immigration document, or school ID. All survivors need to register for D-SNAP. Survivors do not need to be a citizen or have a SSN to apply.

Georgia

  • An additional 34 counties in Georgia are now eligible for Public Assistance grants.

Hurricane Florence

North Carolina

  • Displaced residents in Bladen, Lenoir, and Pamlico counties are now eligible for temporary housing units – either travel trailers or manufactured housing units.
  • The deadline to apply for FEMA assistance has been extended to December 13.
  • Five State/FEMA disaster recovery centers will be temporarily closed due to voting activities. More details on closure times and locations here.

South Carolina


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

Disaster Housing Recovery Update -Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Hurricane Michael

Florida

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved 19,538 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $78.3 million for all Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.

HUD

  • Secretary Ben Carson, Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, and Representative Neal Dunn (R-FL) spoke with local leaders in Panama City today about recovery efforts. A tweet from Secretary Carson states that HUD “will speed federal disaster assistance to FL & provide support to homeowners & low-income renters who were forced from their homes.”

Georgia

  • FEMA has approved 2,566 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $6.4 million for all Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.

Hurricane Florence

North Carolina

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved 30,728 Individual Assistance (IA) applications, $108.7 million for all Individual and Households programs (IHP), and $226,503 in Public Assistance Grants. Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • NLIHC analysis of FEMA data from October 22 shows that the Agency has denied assistance to over half of the survivors who have applied and approved only 23% of the over 103,000 applications. Eight-one percent of denials are due to “insufficient damage.”
  • FEMA issued a final notice to the public stating that it will place temporary housing units on commercial and/or private land located in or affecting a floodplain or wetland. The initial notice was published on September 27 for comment. FEMA will immediately begin to place the housing units in the 13 counties approved for direct temporary housing assistance.
  • The deadline to apply for FEMA assistance is November 13.

USDA

  • Residents in Chatham, Durham, and Gilford counties are now eligible for USDA’s Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP). Residents in 27 other counties are already eligible for these benefits.

State Response

  • The North Carolina Department of Public Safety reports that 408 households (1,139 people) are checked into hotels through FEMA’s TSA program, and 140 people remain in 4 shelters.
  • The North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management estimates that Hurricane Florence caused nearly $17 billion in damage, an increase from a previous estimate of $13 billion. The agency will continue to update the estimate as new information becomes available.

Local Perspective and Resources

  • Hurricane Florence caused a housing shortage at several military bases in the Carolinas, leaving more than 100 veterans and their families with 30 days to leave their homes to make space for displaced active duty service members. The Atlantic Marine Corp Communities property management company reports that nearly 70% of its inventory sustained at least some damage and 150 homes were destroyed completely.
  • The Salvation Army in North Carolina received a $150,000 grant from the N.C. Disaster Relief Fund to help displaced families find housing. The organization is focusing on helping those who lost their jobs due to the hurricane.
  • Mayor of Wilmington, Surf City, and New Bern as well as Pender County officials traveled to Washington, DC, this week to continue to push for additional hurricane relief. They met with officials from FEMA, SBA, HUD, and the departments of Transportation and Education.
  • Residents of Carteret County, NC, wrote a letter to the editor of the Carteret County News-Times on October 2 describing the urgent need for housing assistance following Hurricane Florence. According to the letter, residents of more than 200 apartment units in the county have been evicted due to hurricane damage, displacing at least 500 people with no place to go. The letter also highlights that FEMA’s answer has been to provide lists of hotel rooms, “most of which are 50+ miles away, and most of which are booked up.”

South Carolina

  • FEMA has approved 4,538 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $19.3 million for all Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.

2017 Disasters

Federal Response

  • According to a FEMA press release, the Agency recently reimbursed the City of Houston $3.3 million for sheltering 897 households following Hurricane Harvey. The city contracted with the Houston Housing Authority and Residences on Emancipation to provide the shelter program costing $3.7 million. Ninety percent of the cost is to be reimbursed through FEMA’s Public Assistance grant program with a 10 percent match from the applicant.
  • The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has awarded $14,145,055 in 11 disaster relief grants to legal aid organizations in California, Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the Virgin Islands. The grants were funded through the $89.3 billion emergency supplemental appropriations law, which was passed to address the needs of survivors of the 2017 hurricanes and wildfires. According to an LSC press release, the grants support “projects that mobilize pro bono attorneys, enhance online resources for survivors, and improve communication and cooperation among legal aid clients, pro bono attorneys, and partner organizations.” See this website to find your local grantee.

State Action

  • Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush sent a letter to Congress announcing a request made to HUD for “greater flexibility in the rules governing $4.383 billion in Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) allocation for mitigation.” According to the Texas GLO press release, the letter asks for increased flexibility in the use of mitigation funds to allow local officials to “determine the most effective use of mitigation funds.”
  • The U.S. Virgin Islands government published a report titled, Transforming through Recovery: United States Virgin Islands First-Year Progress Report. The report details the Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria recoveries in energy, housing, healthcare, education, transportation, and other areas.
  • The Golden State Financing Authority and Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) have made available grants of $500 to $2,500 to California households impacted by the 2017 wildfires. Eligibility information and application instructions are available on the Napa County, California, website. Eligible expenses include rental assistance, utility bills, and home reconstruction and repairs. The applications must be postmarked by November 14, 2018.

Local Perspectives

  • An article in Emergency Preparedness featured the partnership between the City of Houston and two private firms, Dewberry and Civis Analytics to “run predictive models of the storm to determine how it impacted communities, and which communities it impacted the most.” The data generated through this partnership led the City of Houston to request an additional $2 billion to cover unmet housing needs related.
  • Government Executive published an article on the HUD disaster standalone partial claims program. This program, which was created in the wake of the 2017 disasters, aims to provide disaster survivors with access to “an interest-free second mortgage loan to cover up to one year of missed mortgage payments.” However, according to the article, low income homeowners face significant barriers when trying to access the program. According to the article, “HUD’s recently updated program retains unnecessary roadblocks, potentially leaving many vulnerable homeowners out in the cold.”
  • According to a blog post in Earther, domestic violence advocates in Florida expect a surge in hotline calls and requests for domestic-violence services such as shelter following Hurricane Michael in Florida. The number of domestic victims who sought help from a Houston-area crisis center more than doubled in the months following Hurricane Harvey. ESCAPE, an organization in Puerto Rico which offers prevention and intervention services for domestic violence and child abuse cases, saw a 62% increase in requests for survivor-related services. The blog post also links to sources that cite surges in domestic violence following Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, and Sandy.

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: November 6 at 12:30pm EDT


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