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

Disaster Housing Recovery Update -Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Hurricane Michael

Florida

FEMA

  • New State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are now open in Gulf and Bay The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have combined their Blue Roof Right of Entry collection centers with the DRCs to make access easier for survivors.

State Action

  • An update from the State of Florida reports that 947 individuals are currently staying in eight shelters.

Georgia


Hurricane Florence

North Carolina

  • Survivors in Chatham, Durham, and Guilford counties are now eligible for Individual Assistance (IA) through FEMA.

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

Disaster Housing Recovery Update -Friday, October 26, 2018

Hurricane Michael

Florida

FEMA

  • A new State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers is open in Calhoun County.

USDA

  • The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) is available in 12 counties. D-SNAP is available for households that may not normally qualify for SNAP benefits and provides a month of benefits. To apply or learn more information, visit the Florida Department of Children and Families D-SNAP webpage.
  • Any household or individual displaced due to Hurricane Michael may apply for USDA’s Rural Development Multi-Family Housing Program as a “displaced tenant” and receive priority admission to a USDA-financed apartment. Survivors who were already receiving USDA rental assistance for a unit that has been made uninhabitable can be transferred to another eligible apartment.  For more information, see the flyer.

Local Perspective and Resources

  • This factsheet from Florida Legal Services provides information to renters displaced by disasters on their rights. Another factsheet from the Florida Senior Legal Helpline provides disaster-related tips and reminders for seniors.

Georgia

FEMA

  • Survivors in seven counties are now eligible to apply for Individual Assistance. Residents of Calhoun, Clay, Laurens, Randolph, Sumter, Tift, and Turner counties should apply for disaster assistance through DisasaterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362.
  • New State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers are now open in Crisp, Dougherty, Lee, and Thomas counties.

USDA

  • Households that participate in the SNAP program and live in one of 23 counties can use their SNAP benefits to buy hot foods through November 17. This provides additional food options for survivors.

Hurricane Florence

North Carolina

FEMA

  • An additional five counties (Alamance, Madison, Polk, Rowan, and Tyrrell) are eligible for Public Assistance (all categories).
  • FEMA released another notice of “its intent to take into account the impact of federal laws concerning historic preservation and civil rights on the federal assistance and grant opportunities it provides.” The pertinent laws include the National Historic Preservation Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

State Action

  • Governor Roy Cooper requested a waiver that would allow those who receive Small Business Administration (SBA) loans to apply for Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds without their SBA loans counting against them.

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

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