Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Friday, September 21, 2018

Hurricane Florence

General

  • Governors in both North and South Carolina are warning residents to prepare for continued flooding near many rivers in both states. Water levels could continue to rise throughout the next week.
  • The Finance and Development Authorities of South Carolina and Indiana sent emails reminding owners of properties assisted by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) that IRS Internal Revenue Procedure 2014-49 and 2014-50 provides LIHTC owners temporary relief from income requirements for individuals displaced by a major disaster. Households are eligible for emergency housing in tax credit properties if their principal residence was located in an area eligible for individual assistance. Units leased as emergency housing are subject to the program rent limits. For affected North Carolina households moving to a South Carolina property, the relief period ends September 14, 2019. These regulations apply to those in counties eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance (IA).

North Carolina

FEMA

  • Applying for disaster assistance through FEMA is a process that involves a housing inspection and providing proper documentation. FEMA provides more information about what to expect here. Survivors can apply for disaster assistance at DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362 (800-462-7585 TTY users).

USDA

  • All students in schools affected by Hurricane Florence are eligible for free school meals through October 26. The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina are assisting with the distribution of meals during school closures.
  • USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has granted the state of North Carolina waivers regarding the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The state can issue benefits remotely, waive some education requirements where offices are closed, and replace food benefits that were damaged or stolen.

State Government

  • Governor Roy Cooper called for a special session of the North Carolina General Assembly to begin on October 9 to fund initial needs for Hurricane Florence recovery.
  • For individuals who find themselves unemployed as a result of Hurricane Florence in the following counties, Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico and Pender, can file an application for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) by October 17, 2018. Individuals may contact DES by calling 1-866-795-8877 from 8AM to 5PM to apply for DUA benefits. For local resources and questions, individuals can contact their County Emergency Management Agencies or call 211 for information on shelters, food assistance, and storm recovery help.

South Carolina

USDA

  • People who lost food purchased with SNAP benefits have until October 15 to report the food loss and request a replacement of benefits. Normal regulations require households to report food loss within ten days of purchase. This waiver applies to 26 counties throughout South Carolina. 

State Government

  • Governor Henry McMaster and officials from the South Carolina Emergency Management Division and the State Disaster Recovery Office sent letters to South Carolina’s congressional delegation requesting continued support. The letters confirm that Governor McMaster has requested both public and individual assistance in 23 counties. The state also provides a preliminary estimate of $1.2 billion for disaster recovery resources, including $540 million in CDBG-DR. 

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

Hurricane Florence’s Potential Impact on the Lowest Income Renters and Their Homes

by  Dan Emmanuel, NLIHC senior research analyst

Last week NLIHC provided an early estimate of the threat Hurricane Florence posed to vulnerable households and affordable rental housing in the storm’s potential path across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Now that Florence has passed, we can begin to get a better sense of the potential impact on the lowest income renters and their housing. Our updated estimates suggest that almost 95,000 rental homes affordable to very low income (VLI)* households and nearly 30,000 federally assisted units are located in counties where significant damage is most likely to have occurred. These areas are home to 98,000 very low income renters.

By all accounts Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina the hardest, leading to massive flooding across the eastern half of the state. The 18 most severely impacted counties in North Carolina received a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration. All 18 North Carolina counties were designated for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Individual Assistance (IA) programs (see map below), which include the Individuals and Households Program (IHP). IHP provides approved registrants with rental assistance, home repair assistance (for homeowners), or assistance for other serious disaster-related needs, such as childcare, medical care, transportation, storage, or the repair or replacement of essential household items.

These same counties are also eligible for FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program for categories A-B, which provides local jurisdictions assistance with debris removal and emergency protective work. PA categories C-G provide recovery assistance for public infrastructure, sometimes including public housing authority (PHA) facilities. So far, eight counties in South Carolina received a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration and are eligible for PA (A-B), but not IA. While our estimates are limited to IA designated areas, this does not preclude the possibility that damage occurred in other areas in South Carolina.

Analysis_Map 2 9 Small

See the enlarged map at: https://bit.ly/2I537Ch

During the IA application process, FEMA collects important information on the housing tenure of IA registrants, extent of damage to inspected housing units, and dollar amounts for approved assistance. These data offer an early opportunity to examine the extent of assistance needs and housing damage for both renters and homeowners following a disaster. IA application data are also an important metric for beginning to gauge the equity of federal, state, and local governments’ responses to a disaster. HUD uses FEMA’s damage inspection data in determining unmet housing needs, which informs the allocation of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds administered by state and local governments. Advocates found potential disparities in the approval rates for IA among renters following Hurricane Harvey and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) documented a significant bias for homeowners in the allocation of CDBG-DR funds following Hurricane Katrina.

While full data from IA applications are not yet available and inspections will likely not be complete for several weeks, IA designations generally highlight the communities most impacted by the storm and where the most significant damage likely occurred. The 18 North Carolina counties with an IA designation have a combined poverty rate of 18.6% compared to the national poverty rate of 15.1%.** These counties are home to a little over 98,000 very low income renter households and there are just under 95,000 rental homes affordable to them (see table below). Based on data from the National Housing Preservation Database (NHPD), we estimate there are almost 30,000 federally assisted housing units in North Carolina’s IA designated counties. In Craven County alone, where the media has reported on damage to public housing in the town of New Bern, there are over 2,000 units of federally assisted housing.

Vulnerable Households

Source: CHAS 2011-2015; National Housing Preservation Database 2018; ATSDR Social Vulnerability Data 2016

HUD also provides estimates of its potentially affected assets, but those do not necessarily include properties assisted through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) or USDA Rural Development programs.*** LIHTC is the largest federal housing production program. Restoring, if not expanding, the limited supply of rental homes affordable to VLI households will be critical to an equitable recovery.


*Note: HUD defines very low income (VLI) households as those earning less than 50% of the area median income (AMI).

** Note: Based on 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year estimates.

***Note: HUD’s estimates do include FHA mortgages and vouchers, while the NHPD does not.


As of September 20, 2018, 5:00pmET

Members Open the Doors to Tools like Housing Profiles

By Joey Lindstrom, NLIHC manager for field organizing

This week, as part of membership month, we are highlighting the research, data, and tools that are made possible through the support of NLIHC members. State and Congressional Housing Profiles are used commonly by NLIHC members and advocates throughout the country to communicate key facts and figures about affordable housing shortages in their respective communities. The tools are designed to provide a local focus for communicating with policy makers or members of the media. Legislative staffers are often grateful for the handy information; housing profiles feature graphs and charts that show the shortage of affordable homes for extremely low income households in a state, housing cost burden by income group, the annual income needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent, and other important statistics that make the case for the expansion of affordable homes for the lowest income households.

SHP_DC

Example: 2018 DC State Housing Profile

Housing Profiles are effective tools for lobby visits with members of Congress because they use empirically driven data to show the unmet needs of the lowest income households. The data tells a story of massive disinvestment for people struggling the most. This data provides a structured argument alongside the personal experience and stories that local advocates are ready to provide.

State and Congressional District Housing Profiles would not be possible without the support of NLIHC members! Join NLIHC today by clicking here.

During NLIHC’s 2018 lobby day over 50 members braved a snowstorm and partners conducted visits with more than 120 legislative offices to discuss NLIHC’s policy priorities, such as NLIHC’s opposition to housing benefit cuts, funding the THUD budget at the highest possible level, and expanding revenue for the national Housing Trust Fund. Housing Profiles were a key part of lobby day packets that participants used to advance their policy arguments.

Tools such as our Housing Profiles are only possible through the support and contributions made by our members. Consider supporting this work and join NLIHC today!


This blog is part of a series of blogs highlighting NLIHC member-driven advocacy successes for Membership Month. Find out more about Membership Month at: https://bit.ly/2f16bCh 

Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hurricane Florence

General

  • Early estimates of property damage from Hurricane Florence range between $17 billion and $22 billion, but could be higher depending on flooding. 
  • Solomon Towers, a public housing development in Wilmington, NC, was badly damaged during heavy rains from Hurricane Maria. The building flooded through the roof, which had not been properly maintained. Many residents remain in their apartments, despite the flooding and lack of power.
  • Many of the cities impacted by Hurricane Florence are smaller and have limited rental housing. Both Wilmington and Fayetteville in North Carolina have less than 1,500 available apartments each, many of them single-family homes. Many landlords are still assessing the damage done to apartments, but the storm will likely lead to a severe rental shortage.

Congress

  • According to CQ Budget, FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund still had $24.8 billion available as of last Friday and should receive additional funding before the fiscal year ends on September 30. While this may be sufficient for initial relief efforts in North and South Carolina, some members of Congress have expressed interest in passing an aid package in the next few weeks. 

USDA

  • USDA Rural Development provided guidance for loan holders and servicers in the Section 502 Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program. Loan servicers are encouraged to extend forbearance alternatives to borrowers impacted by Hurricane Florence and must establish a 90-day suspension of foreclosure actions. Complete details are located in Chapter 18, Section 4, 7 CFR 3555.307 of the SFHGLP Handbook.

North Carolina

FEMA

  • A FEMA news release provides information to survivors about accessing recovery assistance through DisasterAssistance.gov and other resources.
  • FEMA is sheltering nearly 15,000 people in 225 shelters throughout both North and South Carolina.

State Government

  • The North Carolina Department of Public Safety reports more than 150,000 power outages across the state. Residents can call 211 or go to NC 2-1-1 Help Starts Here for information on shelters, food assistance, and storm recovery help.

2017 Disasters

Federal Response

Congress

  • Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posted a video on the housing title issues and FEMA denials in Puerto Rico, titled American Citizens Are Being Denied Disaster Aid.
  • Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) has filed H.R. 6826, a bill to amend the Small Business Act to provide for disaster loans to repair, rehabilitate, or replace property damaged or destroyed by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria.

FEMA

  • Hundreds of Hurricane Maria survivors, still without homes, were evicted on September 14 from temporary shelter in hotels provided by FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program. NBC News published a comprehensive story on the end of TSA in the absence of the Disaster Housing Assistance (DHAP) program. Diane Yentel, NLIHC President and CEO, is quoted saying, “After other past disasters, longer-term disaster housing assistance has been used to help survivors get back on their feet. It’s not too late for FEMA to do so now. The last thing the federal government should be doing is knowingly causing homelessness for disaster survivors.”
  •  The Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition sent a letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long on September 14, calling on the agency to notify directly all Hurricane Maria survivors previously denied Individuals and Households Program (IHP) assistance due to ownership title issues—whether they appealed or not—and invite them to reapply with the new Sworn Statement for Proof of Ownership.

HUD

  •  HUD has rescheduled the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Problem Solving Clinic from September 18-20, 2018 to December 12-14, 2018 in Atlanta, GA. Any requests for adjustments to registration must be sent to the CDBG-DR Clinic Registrar at trainings@hudexchange.info.
  •  HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will hold a meeting on Tuesday, September 25 to discuss ongoing Hurricane Maria recovery efforts for multifamily owners of properties in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Registration is open until COB on September 21. Register for the Spanish session here, or the English session here.

State Action

  • The U.S. Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority opened a public comment period for residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands regarding an amendment to its Action Plan. The U.S. Virgin Islands received a total of $1.86 billion in CDBG-DR, and HUD has already approved an Action Plan for activities amounting to nearly $243 million. The proposed amendment pertains to an additional $779 million in activities. The announcement is available here, and the HUD requirements are available in the August 14, 2018 Federal Register. The public comment period is open until October 16, 2018. Public meetings will take place on St. Croix on September 24, St. John on September 26, and St. Thomas on October 2. Meeting locations and times are included in the announcement.
  • The Department of Housing and Community Development of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has provided transitional funds for households affected by Hurricane Maria for up to 12 months. The Massachusetts Evacuee Transitional Assistance Reserve (METAR) will assist with moving expenses, rent, and first or last month’s rent or security deposit for those transitioning from shelter into more suitable housing. Hurricane Maria evacuees on state-aided public housing waitlists are Priority 1 (Displaced by Natural Forces). The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency provided a notification to FEMA evacuees hosted by the Commonwealth.
  • The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) held a webinar on September 14 on its amendment to the State of Florida’s Action Plan for Disaster Recovery. The additional allocation of $157 million in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding from HUD would be used to address the remaining unmet disaster recovery needs resulting from Hurricane Irma. There will be a 30-day public comment period. The DEO is requesting feedback through an online questionnaire, open until September 21, 2018—designed to help DEO update its unmet needs assessment and action plan.
  • A Wall Street Journal article reports the government of Puerto Rico is offering homeowners federal financial assistance only if they move out of flood-prone areas—not wanting to rebuild on land that is vulnerable to soil erosion and chronic flooding from storms like Hurricane Maria. Advocates say that many living in neighborhoods targeted for relocation are unaware of these discussions and have not been included in the process.

Local Perspectives

  • The New York Times published a Letter to the Editor on September 12 by Saundra Brown with Lone Star Legal Aid, responding to the September 3 article A Year After Hurricane Harvey. Ms. Brown confirms that the poorest of Hurricane Harvey survivors become “. . . entangled in disputes and complications with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”
  • A blog post by Texas Housers states that the Texas General Land Office’s (GLO) proposal for distributing CDBG-DR funds will fail to meet the needs of residents in places like Port Arthur, TX. According to analysis and tracking by Texas Housers of the Hurricane Harvey recovery in Texas, the methodology proposed by the GLO for calculating need and distributing funds to impacted residents underestimates the cost for recovery in low-income communities. Texas GLO estimates the cost of additional unmet need in Port Arthur at $12.9 million – less than half of the $28.2 million estimated by Texas Housers. The Texas GLO State Action Plan is open for public comment until 5:00 p.m. on October 6, 2018.
  • A new study published in the Journal of Emergency Management found that people displaced by Super Storm Sandy were more likely to have PTSD, anxiety, and stress compared to people who were not displaced or were able to stay with friends or family.
  • An article from NPR shares the stories of several low-income families struggling to recover following recent fires in California. Many low income families and individuals may not have renters insurance and receive only a small portion of their need from FEMA. Poverty rates frequently increase in counties impacted by disaster since wealthier residents leave and lower-income residents become poorer.

Working Groups on Disaster Housing Recovery

Puerto Rico

  • Next meeting: October 16 at 3:00 pm EDT

Homelessness

  • Next meeting: September 24 at 3:00 PM EDT

Data Transparency

  • Next meeting: October 10 at 3:30 PM EDT

Policy

  • Next meeting: September 18 at 12:30pm EDT

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

Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Tuesday, September 18, 2018

North Carolina

FEMA

Ten additional counties have been designated for Individual Assistance (IA) and Public Assistance (PA Categories A and B): Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Lenoir, Jones, Robeson, Sampson, and Wayne. More counties may be designated as assessments continue. FEMA explanations of IA and PA programs are at: HQ-18-127-FactSheet.

Survivors may register with FEMA after filing an insurance claim. If internet access is available, the best way to register is:

Survivors can also call 800-621-3362 (FEMA). Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay Service may also call 800-621-3362. People who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY may call 800-462-7585.

State Government

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety reports over 200,000 power outages across the state. Residents can call 211 for information on shelters, food assistance, and storm recovery help.

Small Business Administration

The 18 counties included in the disaster declaration are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from SBA. Residents of an additional 13 counties (Chatham, Greene, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Lee, Martin, Moore, Pitt, Scotland, Wake, Washington, and Wilson) are eligible for Economic Injury Loans only. Physical Injury loans are for repairing damaged or destroyed property (real estate, equipment, inventory, etc.), and Economic Injury loans are to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.

SBA has opened a Business Recovery Center in Greenville, North Carolina. SBA representatives at the center can help provide information about disaster loans or complete applications.

South Carolina

Small Business Administration

Residents in Dillon, Horry, and Marlboro counties are eligible for Economic Injury Loans through SBA.

HUD

FHA

The Federal Housing Administration issued a reminder of its guidance for originating and/or servicing FHA-insured mortgages in presidentially declared major disaster areas. This guidance includes a 90-day foreclosure moratorium.

Fannie Mae

Fannie may has issued guidance for presidentially declared major disaster areas impacted by Hurricane Florence. Under this guidance, homeowners are eligible to stop making mortgage payments for up to 12 months, servicers can suspend or reduce a homeowner’s mortgage payments for up to 90 days, and foreclosure and other legal proceedings must be suspended.


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