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

Disaster Housing Recovery Update -Monday, October 22, 2018

Hurricane Michael

Florida

FEMA

  • A state/FEMA Disaster Recovery Center is now open in Wakulla County.

State Action

  • Ten shelters housing over 1,500 people remain open throughout the state.
  • The Florida Housing Finance Corporation is helping those displaced by the storm find affordable rental housing through its service Socialserve. Those looking for housing can visit www.FloridaHousingSearch.org. Florida Housing will also initiate the State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) program, which provides local governments with funds for homeownership and rental housing programs. Each fiscal year, Florida Housing can earmark up to $5 million for recovery efforts.

Local Perspective and Resources

  • This website has disaster legal aid resources specific to Florida.
  • Many displaced residents of a public housing complex in Panama City, FL are camping out in the remains of their homes because they have no other place to stay or no access to transportation. Residents have been talking with legal services groups to combat misinformation and learn their rights. With rental options incredibly scarce and hotels booked, these tenants can either campout or relocate to a shelter.

Georgia

FEMA

State Action

  • SNAP recipients in Georgia can report food loss due to Hurricane Michael no later than October 31. Survivors must submit a Food Loss Replacement Form (Form 841) in person or by mail to a local DFCS office.

Hurricane Florence

North Carolina

  • The North Carolina Department of Public Safety reports that 383 households (over 1,000 individuals) are participating in FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program and over 16,000 individuals have received rental assistance.
  • FEMA is now providing two forms of Direct Temporary Housing Assistance in ten North Carolina counties: travel trailers and manufactured housing units (MHUs). Trailers are intended for households that can complete repairs in less than a year, and MHUs is a longer-term solution for those with more substantial damage. FEMA will contact households that may eligible. These solutions are used in areas that FEMA determines to have insufficient rental options. An article from U.S. News & World Report states that at least 600 families are on the waiting list for travel trailers and mobile homes, but only a handful has received their trailer or MHU.

South Carolina

  • The deadline to apply for FEMA assistance is November 20.
  • Governor Henry McMaster, state and federal officials, and non-profit organizations attended a Team South Carolina Day for Horry and Georgetown counties today in Conway, SC.

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

Disaster Housing Recovery Update -Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Hurricane Michael

  • During a tour on Monday through impacted areas in Florida and Georgia, President Trump praised the federal and state response and said he would ask Congress for additional emergency disaster aid. Congress recently approved $1.68 billion for disaster recovery and is likely to pass additional aid following the November midterm elections.
  • Through October 18, Sprint has waived call, text, and data overage fees for wireless customers impacted by Hurricane Michael.

Florida

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved over 1,000 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $4.2 million for all Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • Residents of Leon County are now eligible to apply for Individual Assistance through FEMA.
  •  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is assisting homeowners with temporary roof repairs through the Operation Blue Roof program, which provides blue plastic sheeting as a temporary covering to prevent additional damage.

USDA

  • USDA has granted Florida the ability to approve automatic mass replacements of SNAP benefits at 40% for residents of counties and zip codes who experienced power outages and flooding. If a household lost more than 40% of food purchased with the October allotment, they can request and submit Form 3515 (Food Assistance Replacement Authorization) as soon as possible. SNAP recipients outside the designated areas may also request a replacement by filing an affidavit with their local office.

State Action

  • Pharmacies in Alabama and Georgia are now authorized to offer prescription refills to survivors of Hurricane Michael.
  • Residents in any county approved for Individual Assistance are eligible to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). The deadline to apply is November 14. The Florida DEO will also administer the National Dislocated Worker Grant, which provides temporary employment opportunities that support storm response and recovery efforts.

Local Perspectives and Resources

  • A legal aid hotline for Hurricane Michael is now open: 1-866-550-2929

Georgia

FEMA

  • Residents in seven additional counties (Crisp, Grady, Lee, Mitchell, Terrell, Thomas, and Worth) are now eligible to apply for Individual Assistance through FEMA.
  • Food and water distribution centers can be found here and a map of shelters can be found here.

Hurricane Florence

  • HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta joined members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation to tour the impact of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, NC.

North Carolina

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved 28,581 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and almost $100 million for all Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • Residents in Anson, Orange, and Union counties are now eligible for IA through FEMA. Survivors who require accommodations or additional assistance can find resources here.
  • The State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Pender County relocated, and the DRC in Harnett County will close tomorrow, October 18.
  • FEMA has given final notice to the public that it will place temporary housing units (THUs) on commercial or private sites located in or affecting a floodplain or wetland. Units will be placed on a survivor’s property when possible, and all THU installations are temporary and will comply with local, state, federal, and tribal laws and requirements.
  • FEMA encourages anyone who was displaced from their HUD-assisted housing to apply for FEMA assistance. These households may receive help from FEMA until they are relocated back to HUD-assisted or public housing or sign a new lease using a Housing Choice Voucher.
  • A fact sheet provides additional information on “duplication of benefits.” FEMA may consider any disaster assistance – including money from insurance, charities, or other government agencies – when determining the amount of FEMA assistance for a survivor. This does not include government benefits received prior to the disaster.
  • A FEMA infographic reports that 270,000 families received food assistance through Disaster-SNAP and SNAP and FEMA completed 87,000 home inspections. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety adds that FEMA has completed 98% of home inspections.

Local Perspectives and Resources

  • Community members in Wilmington demanded answers about housing assistance from City Council members. Several apartment complexes have closed due to unsafe conditions, leaving tenants with few options in an already tight rental market.

South Carolina

FEMA

  • FEMA has approved 4,187 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $17 million for all Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
  • A Mobile Disaster Recovery Center will be at four locations throughout Horry County during the month of October. Additionally, a new DRC opened in Darlington County.
  • The deadline for applying for a Small Business Administration loan is November 20.

State Action

  • Governor Henry McMaster issued an Executive Order (EO No. 2018-50) that creates the South Carolina Floodwater Commission. This commission will help improve coordination and communication between local, state, and federal agencies.

2017 Disasters

Federal Response

FEMA

  • FEMA issued a press release announcing that it had reimbursed the State of Texas through the Public Assistance grant program for mold removal and cleanout of the Port Arthur Housing Development Southwood Crossing Apartment complex following Hurricane Harvey.
  • FEMA released updated versions of county-by-county infographics showing the Hurricane Harvey response and rebuilding process with data through September 28, 2018. A statewide overview for Texas is also available, with data through October 1, 2018

HUD

  • Enterprise Community Solutions submitted a letter to the HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development containing ten recommendations for how to best guide and support grantees in their use of Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program funds for mitigation. According to the letter, “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.” NLIHC and the DHRC participated in the development of these recommendations.

State Action

  • Texas General Land Office (GLO) Commissioner George P. Bush announced the posting of Regional Housing Guidelines for the Homeowner Assistance Program for the Central/Golden Crescent Region and the Coastal Bend Council of Government (COG) Region. The draft guidelines are available for a 30-day public comment period, through November 11, 2018. Comments can be submitted to CDR@recovery.texas.gov.
  • Texas GLO announced the submission of Amendment 1 to the State Action Plan for Hurricane Harvey recovery to HUD for final approval on October 12. The amendment includes plans for the distribution and eligible uses of direct allocations totaling $2.3 billion for Harris County ($1.115 billion) and the City of Houston ($1.155 billion).
  • The draft of Puerto Rico’s Substantial Amendment to the Action Plan is still open for public comment until Sunday, October 21, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. Two public hearings remaining. For dates, times, and locations for the public hearings, as well as information on how to submit comments, click here (English version).
  • Public comments on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s amendment to its CDBG-DR State Action Plan are due by November 9th.  
  • The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Rebuild Florida mobile registration bus will be at three locations in the Florida Keys this week. The mobile center has case managers on hand to help low- and moderate-income residents whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. A flyer is available here.

Local Perspectives and Resources

  • Texas Housers points to a flawed, decentralized recovery effort in response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas in a new blog post. According to advocates, the reliance on local jurisdictions to supply 25% of the funding for hazard mitigation promotes “unequal recoveries to rebuild Texas at the expense of low-and-moderate-income people and communities of color.” The blog post highlights that “. . . larger cities and counties with deeper pockets are already at an advantage in applying for, securing, and matching these funds. The temptation for a city or county to redirect available CDBG funding from low- and moderate-income people to meet the match requirement is very high.” The article links to a map showing applications to the Texas Department of Emergency Management for funding through the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant program by request location.
  • Centro, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter CUNY released Rebuild Puerto Rico: A Guide to Federal Policy and Advocacy. The guide introduces a wide range of federal programs available for disaster relief and recovery, as well as non-disaster programs related to affordable housing and economic development. In addition to an overview of federal programs, the guide provides information on entry points for advocacy around specific programs. An overview of the document is available here.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is hosting a Community Town Hall: A Conversation on Disaster Recovery Featuring Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell and Dallas Fed President Robert S. Kaplan on November 15 from 10:00 a.m. – noon in Houston. Registration is open until November 9.
  • DHRC member Adi Martínez Román was quoted in an article in The Indiana Lawyer.com talking about the challenges presented by Hurricane Maria to Puerto Rican communities. The article highlights FEMA’s denial of 61% of applications for assistance by survivors as a result of FEMA’s determination that proof of homeownership was insufficient.
  • The Instituto Desarrollo Juventud (Youth Development Institute) released preliminary findings from a study commissioned by Estudios Técnicos, Inc. (ETI). Early analysis shows the substantial impact Hurricane Maria had on children in Puerto Rico.
  • DHRC member Jorge Luis Vasquez Jr. from LatinoJustice PRLDEF published an article in USA Today last month, describing his firsthand account of the conditions in Puerto Rico one year-post Hurricane Maria

Working Groups

  • Homelessness: Next Meeting: October 22 at 3:00 pm EDT
  • Policy: Next Meeting: October 23 at 12:30 pm EDT
  • Data Transparency: Next Meeting: November 7 at 3:30 pm EDT
  • Puerto Rico: Next Meeting: November 20 at 3:00 pm EDT

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