Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Tuesday, April 10, 2018

General

To increase the responsiveness of federal disaster housing programs, the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition has developed an online tool for capturing the individual stories of disaster survivors. These accounts of unmet need will be collected for use with policymakers and media to illustrate the unique housing challenges low income survivors face after a disaster and to build support for solutions. We are asking legal aid, advocacy, and other organizations serving disaster survivors from the hurricanes and wildfires of 2017 to help us collect these stories by filling out the online questionnaire for any client/individual with a compelling need for direct rental assistance.


Federal Response

Congress

A group of seven senators – Bill Nelson (D-FL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tom Carper (D-DE) – sent a letter to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA). The letter requests additional hearings on recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, particularly relating to power restoration. Many Puerto Ricans on the island still lack power.

HUD

HUD awarded $28 billion in CDBG-DR funds to support long-term disaster recovery—the second and last allocation of what Congress appropriated in the disaster supplemental appropriations. While Congress provided “up to” $16 billion to address unmet needs, HUD allocates only $12 billion for this purpose – the remaining $4 billion was instead diverted by HUD to address mitigation needs, bringing all mitigation dollars to a total of $16 billion. At this time, it is unclear whether this allocation provides sufficient resources to address the unmet needs in disaster-impacted areas. NLIHC will keep you updated as we learn more.

Of the $12 billion allocated for unmet needs, HUD provides $124 million for California; $157.7 million for Florida; $37.9 million for Georgia; $58.5 million for Missouri; $10.15 billion for Puerto Rico; $652 million for Texas; and $846.8 million for USVI.  Awards for unmet needs and mitigation can be reviewed here.

The Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) has compiled a spreadsheet with information on public housing authorities (PHAs) with preferences for households displaced by the 2017 disasters. The spreadsheet is a resource for families, PHAs, and HUD staff. PHAs that wish to supply additional or correct information should contact the disaster preference project team.

USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program, which was authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, will make payments of up to $2.36 billion to farmers and ranchers recovering from the 2017 disasters. Sign-up for the program will begin no later than July 16.

FEMA

FEMA and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced on April 7 that $53 million in Community Disaster Loans were approved for 12 municipalities. An additional 65 municipalities are in different stages of the application process.

Local Perspectives

  • New Texas State Action Plan. Texas General Land Office (GLO) has released today a Hurricane Harvey Action Plan for the allocation of $5.024 billion and is accepting public comments on the plan through April 26, 2018. Texas GLO previously released a State Action Plan for $57.8 million, which it submitted to HUD in early March.
  • Rebuild Texas Fund Update. The Rebuild Texas Fund has raised $93.1 million for economic recovery of communities most affected by Hurricane Harvey. So far, the Fund has invested $18 million in 64 projects. Details of the projects can be found in its recent updates.
  • Upcoming Deadline in Texas. The Texas GLO announced that the agency will soon complete activities for the Direct Assistance for Limited Home Repair (DALHR) program. The last date to have an inspection scheduled is April 20, 2018. All applicants notified that they are eligible for DALHR should contact GLO to schedule an inspection.
  • Seniors Hotline. The National Church Residences Hurricane Support for Seniors Hotline is no longer taking new referrals. Disaster case management teams have been deployed to the affected areas to serve seniors in need. The hotline helped over 700 seniors, and staff are ready to re-engage for the 2018 hurricane season if necessary.
  • Lessons from Louisiana. The Data Center, located in New Orleans, LA, released a new report, Rigging the Real Estate Market: Segregation, Inequality, and Disaster Risk. The study explores how various policies–including disaster recovery efforts–created and enforced racial segregation and inequity.
  • Race and Recovery. The Center for American Progress explores the inequities in disaster recovery past and present in this insightful piece.

Working Groups on Disaster Housing Recovery

Policy

  • On behalf of the DHRC, NLIHC sent a letter to House Financial Services Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO) regarding a bill that would authorize the CDBG-DR program. The letter provides recommendations regarding data transparency, efficient use of limited resources, oversight, mitigation and resiliency, and other suggestions to ensure the needs of low income households are addressed. The policy group has been working with committee staff and expects a mark-up on the bill later this month.
  • Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) is expected to introduce a bill this week that would require FEMA and HUD to stand up the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) following a disaster. The bill also includes provisions requiring FEMA to accept alternative documents proving home ownership, which has been an issue in Texas and Puerto Rico. Congressman Espaillat’s legislation would ensure that all survivors of the recent hurricanes and wildfires – including those with the lowest incomes – have the resources they need to keep a stable roof over their heads while they rebuild their lives.
  • Next meeting: April 17, 12:30 PM EDT.

Puerto Rico

  • Attorneys in Puerto Rico and Texas along with national support attorneys met to understand PR’s estate laws to determine if affidavits like those recognized by FEMA as proof of ownership in Texas can be developed and applied in the Commonwealth.
  • The PR partners will put together a comprehensive statement and documents suggesting how FEMA can be responsive to jurisdictional law in PR in addressing the absence of title and other documents FEMA recognizes as proof of ownership.  This may include extending application-for-assistance deadlines for those who have started the long process of securing legal ownership.
  • Next meeting: April 17 at 3:00 PM EDT

Homelessness

  • The WG will pursue the policy goal of securing the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program in statute and work to incorporate within it policies that address challenges unique to the broader challenge of homelessness. The focus of its next meeting is the current legislation by Rep. Wagner (R-MO) and a long-term strategy for moving a fuller bill that incorporates the DHRC’s priorities.
  • Next meeting: April 30 at 3:00 PM EDT

Data Transparency

  • The WG seeks to make public FEMA’s protocols, questions, and assessments for processing applications for federal assistance. It has also compared the numerous FOIA requests to FEMA for data at a more granular level.   The WG will review the applicant data on OpenFEMA that Fair Share Housing and partners secured from FEMA to determine next steps.
  • Next meeting: TBA

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

 

Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Federal Response

Congress

The House Homeland Security Committee is hosting a field hearing on Hurricane Harvey Lessons. The hearing will be held on April 9 at 10:30 AM CDT at Berry Center, 8877 Barker Cypress, Cypress, TX.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney issued a memo with guidance for agencies regarding the implementation of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 as it relates to emergency supplemental appropriations. Among other issues, the memo calls for agencies to ensure that “grantees expend all awarded disaster relief funds within the 24-month period following the agency’s obligation of those funds unless waived by OMB.”

FEMA

FEMA is seeking landlords in Puerto Rico to participate in the Direct Lease and Multi-Family Lease and Repair programs. FEMA pays participating landlords directly to help provide homes for displaced survivors.

Local Perspectives

Florida Affordable Housing. The Heart of Florida United Way has launched a new housing assistance program for displaced Hurricane Maria survivors. The program is limited to assisting those whose homes in Puerto Rico were declared uninhabitable by FEMA and are working.

Florida Funding for Repairs. Funding from the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program will soon be allocated to local governments hardest hit by Hurricane Irma. The funds will assist income-qualified households in need of repairs to their homes, including evacuees in Florida from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Seniors Struggle in Puerto Rico. Older Puerto Ricans face additional issues as they struggle to find healthy foods and necessary medicine.

Lessons for Texas. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas published a report about the redevelopment of affordable public housing following Hurricane Ike in September 2008. Ten years later, the continuing hardships affected communities still face could offer lessons for Hurricane Harvey recovery.

Lawsuit against Texas GLO. In late March, Texas Housers filed a lawsuit against the Texas General Land Office (GLO) to seek access to data on the agency’s short-term housing programs. Despite repeated requests for data on the Partial Repair and Essential Power for Sheltering (PREPS) and Direct Assistance for Limited Home Repair (DALHR), GLO maintains they are unable to share that information. Texas Housers asserts this is a violation of the Texas Public Information Act. A judge is expected to make her decision about a temporary injunction next week.

DHRC Working Groups

Policy

Advocates met with staff from the office of Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO) to offer recommendations and revisions regarding her bill to authorize the CDBG-DR program. The working group is drafting a formal letter to Rep. Wagner outlining these recommendations.

Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) is expected to introduce a bill that would address the issues arising from survivors’ lack of titles for their properties. The bill also requires FEMA to allow HUD to stand up the DHAP program. NLIHC staff are following up with Senator Harris about a Dear Colleague letter in the Senate.

On behalf of the DHRC, NLIHC has submitted a request to meet with FEMA Administrator Brock Long to discuss the agency’s response to the longer-term housing needs of low income survivors. Specifically, the request asks to discuss FEMA’s refusal to stand up DHAP, the need to collect and make public data, and the necessary steps to address the unique housing needs in Puerto Rico.  

Next meeting:  Every Tuesday afternoon at 12:30 EDT.

Puerto Rico

Focus: After discussing the steps Lone Star Legal Aid took to get FEMA to accept these affidavits in Texas in the absence of ownership title documents, there is interest in pursuing a similar strategy for Puerto Rico, where informal housing arrangements are common.  Many families have been denied FEMA assistance when a family cannot produce legal proof of ownership. Disaster advocates from Katrina and attorneys from Puerto Rico in the Working Group (WG) suggested that Puerto Rico—like Louisiana–conveys ownership automatically upon a death to family heirs, so affidavits might be a strategy that would work in PR.  The Office of Chief Counsel of FEMA said that each state should have equivalent laws which may allow an applicant to be considered the owner.

Next steps:  Attorneys in Puerto Rico and Texas along with national support attorneys will meet to understand PR’s estate laws to determine if affidavits like those recognized by FEMA as proof of ownership in Texas can be developed and applied in the commonwealth. 

Next meeting:  April 17 at 3:00 PM EDT

Homelessness

Focus:  The WG will pursue the policy goal of securing the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program in statute and work to incorporate within it policies that address challenges unique to the broader challenge of homelessness. 

Next step:  Discuss the current legislation by Rep. Wagner (R-MO) and a long-term strategy for moving a fuller bill that incorporates the DHRC’s priorities.

Next meeting:  April 30 at 3:00 PM EDT

Data Transparency

Focus:  The WG has been in ongoing discussions with FEMA’s Deputy IHP Branch Chief in Washington relative to FEMA’s protocols for processing applications for federal assistance.  It has also met to share the numerous FOIA requests to FEMA for data at a more granular level.  

Next step:  The WG will review the applicant data on OpenFEMA that Fair Share Housing and partners secured from FEMA. It will also develop a comprehensive list of data for a letter to FEMA.

Next meeting:  April 6 at 1:00 PM EDT


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

 

Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Wednesday, March 28, 2018

General Updates

Letter Urging Public Input in PR. NLIHC, other national advocates, and local organizations in Puerto Rico sent a letter to Governor Rosselló and HUD Secretary Carson expressing their concern about the lack of opportunity for community input on long-term disaster recovery plans. While public meetings were held, the events failed to provide key stakeholders an opportunity to fully have their voices heard. The letter urges HUD and the Puerto Rican government to ensure additional opportunities for public consultation occur`.


CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

FEMA

October Wildfires

By the Numbers: (as of 3/28)

  • 4,482 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $15,640,240 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $9,557,531 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $6,082,709 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $263,255,541 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $261,599,046 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $216,120 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) obligated**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects

December Wildfires, Flooding, Mudflows, and Debris Flows

By the Numbers: (as of 3/28)

  • 689 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $4,203,862 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $3,622,780 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $581,082 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $80,575,526 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated, all for emergency work (Categories A-B)**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects

Local Perspectives

  • Sonoma Rental Prices. The October wildfires destroyed more than 5,000 residential units in Sonoma County alone, an area that already had limited affordable housing options. Public officials are working on speeding up the recovery process but face a worker shortage and community resistance to increasing density. As a result, rental prices have increased by 30%, and some renters have been forced to leave because landlords need homes for themselves.

HURRICANE MARIA

FEMA

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 3/28)

  • 444,836 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,093,231,655 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $600,629,656 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $492,601,998 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $1,329,295,511 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $1,311,295,511 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

U.S. Virgin Islands

By the Numbers: (as of 3/28)

  • 10,976 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $38,929,181 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $26,828,934 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $12,100,247 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $442,712,231 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $431,826,605 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $3,472,078 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) obligated**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

Local Perspectives

  • Unequal Response. Politico released a troubling story that demonstrates how the Trump administration’s disaster recovery efforts differed following Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. From the FEMA staff assigned to the disaster to the rate of individual assistance approvals, the administration has favored Texas over Puerto Rico in virtually every step of recovery. The detailed report provides specific examples of this troubling pattern.
  • Orlando MARC. The Orlando Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC), which serves those impacted by Hurricane Maria passing through or relocating to Florida, will close on Friday, March 30.

HURRICANE IRMA

FEMA

Florida

By the Numbers: (as of 3/28)

  • 773,357 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $995,757,318 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $689,660,739 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $306,096,580 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $26,767,799 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $13,476,852 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $921,650 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) obligated**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects

Georgia

By the Numbers: (as of 3/28)

  • 9,377 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $13,455,549 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $9,953,061 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $3,502,489 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $10,752,026 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $4,968,554 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $5,142,596 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) obligated**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 3/28)

  • 1,471 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $7,802,174 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $6,189,014 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $1,613,160 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $4,219,673 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated, all for emergency work (Categories A-B)**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

U.S. Virgin Islands

By the Numbers: (as of 3/28)

  • 8,529 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $35,296,490 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $25,170,493 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $10,125,998 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $6,997,579 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $6,743,846 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $231,188 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) obligated**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

Local Perspectives

Lack of Housing. According to NLIHC’s The Gap report, Orlando ranked third nationally for its shortage of affordable housing. The housing market will only become tighter and less affordable following Hurricanes Irma and Maria as survivors look to relocate.


HURRICANE HARVEY

FEMA

Texas

By the Numbers: (as of 3/28)

  • 371,914 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,585,955,642 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $1,199,520,689 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $386,434,953 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $633,026,626 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $569,105,202 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $983,299 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) obligated**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

Local Perspectives

  • Harvey’s Impact on Immigrants. The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation released a report detailing how Hurricane Harvey affected the lives of migrants/immigrants along the Texas Gulf Coast. Immigrants have more precarious financial and social circumstances than native-born residents–with 70% of immigrants saying they have little to no support system and more than half living well below the federal poverty level. Immigrant residents reported higher rates of loss of income or employment and were generally less likely to seek help following the storm.

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

 

Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Monday, March 26, 2018

GENERAL UPDATES

Free legal assistance is available for all disaster survivors in California, Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands through the Disaster Legal Services of the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers division. The hotline can help individuals appeal FEMA denials, make insurance claims, replace legal documents, provide counseling on landlord/tenant issues, and much more.


HURRICANE MARIA

Local Perspectives

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced an agreement that would release $4.7 billion in disaster recovery loans that were approved in October 2017. The agreement allows the island to access the loans once its treasury’s cash balance falls below $1.1 billion, instead of the $800 million Secretary Mnuchin initially set. Mr. Mnuchin had also advocated for ruling out the possibility of future loan forgiveness, even though disaster recovery loans are often forgiven. The agreement ensures that repayment of these loans has higher priority than the $70 billion owed to bondholders. Puerto Rico’s legislature, the federal oversight board, and the federal judge handling its bankruptcy proceedings still need to approve the agreement.

Puerto Rican evacuees in New York, Connecticut, and across the country continue to struggle to find long term housing. High rents prevent families from finding affordable options through the private market, and long waiting lists limit public housing authorities to offer any help.


HURRICANE HARVEY

FEMA

FEMA added Texas’ Affidavits of Facts Concerning Identity of Heirs to the Accepted Ownership Documents.  Instructions will be issued to FEMA managers and their inspectors. In Texas the title vests immediately upon death of the ancestor or testator–therefore applicable to the condition of leaving a valid will as well as when someone dies without leaving a will and their estate passes under state laws of descent and distribution. FEMA has agreed to reprocess any of Lone Star Legal Aid’s denials that lost on ownership but had affidavits of heirship–even those dated after Harvey. 

Local Perspectives

According to the Texas General Land Office (GLO), more than 10,000 households have received repairs to their homes through the Partial Repair and Essential Power for Sheltering (PREPS) program. This program provides basic repairs that allow homeowners to remain in their homes while making more permanent repairs to their homes.

In their complaint filed in the U.S. District Court last week, Texas Housers included evidence that the City of Houston “has created and maintains a separate and unequal stormwater system that results in disproportionate and preventable flooding of African-American and Latino neighborhoods.” Texas Housers found that 88% of open ditch drainage is in predominately African-American neighborhoods. According to a 2014 study conducted by the city, nearly half of open drainage ditches could not provide adequate protection from flooding even in modest storms. Texas Housers’ lawsuit against HUD urges the agency to force Houston to address this and other issues before allocating CDBG-DR funding.


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

 

Disaster Housing Recovery Update, Wednesday, March 21, 2018

General Updates

HUD Webinars. HUD is holding free webinars to provide an overview of the new loss mitigation policies that address disaster-affected borrowers. The webinar is open to all FHA-approved services and housing counselors. The next two dates are March 22 (2-3 PM EDT) and April 3 (11 AM – 12 PM EDT).


CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

FEMA

October Wildfires

By the Numbers: (as of 3/21)

  • 4,474 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $15,586,229 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $9,508,585 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $6,077,644 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $262,594,425 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $260,950,342 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**

$203,708 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) obligated**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects

December Wildfires, Flooding, Mudflows, and Debris Flows

By the Numbers: (as of 3/21)

  • 682 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $4,116,062 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $3,565,157 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $550,905 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

Local Perspectives

Homes Built in Fire-Prone Areas. A new study shows that new housing developments are increasing fastest in areas most vulnerable to wildfires. The problem is particularly bad in southern California with hundreds of thousands of homes built in high fire-risk areas between 1990 and 2010.


HURRICANE MARIA

FEMA

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 3/21)

  • 443,063 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,083,612,905 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $594,401,498 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $489,211,407 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $1,327,513,185 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $1,309,513,185 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated***Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

    **Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

  • Individual Assistance Deadline Extended. Survivors of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico now have until June 18 to register with FEMA for individual assistance.
  • Additional Numbers. A FEMA update states that more than 6,900 families have participated in the Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program with more than 3,500 of those families still being housed in hotels in Puerto Rico and 37 states.

U.S. Virgin Islands

By the Numbers: (as of 3/21)

  • 10,901 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $38,168,803 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $26,272,691 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $11,896,112 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $442,712,232 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $431,826,605 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $3,472,078 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) obligated***Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

    **Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

  • Federal Funding. FEMA will continue to cover for an additional 60 days 100% of eligible costs for debris removal and emergency protective measures. This federal reimbursement for Public Assistance (PA) work will now continue through May 5 for Hurricane Irma and May 14 for Hurricane Maria.
  • Prescription Assistance Extended. A FEMA program that provides prescription assistance for uninsured disaster survivors has been extended through April 15 for survivors in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The program provides free 30-day replacements of certain drugs and medical supplies for eligible survivors.
  • Additional Grants. FEMA approved $173,844,945 to the VI Water and Power Authority for power restoration and an additional $8,368,381 to the VI Waste Management Authority for debris removal and wastewater management.

Local Perspectives

  • 6 Months After Maria. Six months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, residents are still struggling to rebuild their homes and their lives. In a recent New York Times piece, a student from Comerio shares her story of helping to rebuild her town and the continued struggle that thousands on the island face. Members of the community have put the rest of their lives on hold as they raise money to rebuild the nearly 4,000 damaged homes in Comerio.
  • Informal Housing. FEMA is denying assistance to many Puerto Ricans because they lack deeds to their homes. About 60% of applicants are denied Individual Assistance (IA), mostly because they cannot prove ownership of their homes. While FEMA has tried to ease documentation requirements, many Puerto Ricans are still being denied for inconsistent reasons. While Puerto Rican government officials have suggested using disaster relief money to grant deeds to families, this action will not address the immediate needs on the island.
  • Rally in DC. On March 20, about 250 people rallied in front of FEMA headquarters to demand action and assistance. Homes in Puerto Rico lack power and those who have evacuated to the mainland have struggled to find housing or employment. Several members of Congress, including Representatives Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) and Darren Soto (D-FL) attended to show their support.

HURRICANE IRMA

FEMA

Florida

By the Numbers: (as of 3/21)

  • 773,022 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $994,214,666 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $688,353,582 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $305,861,083 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $24,817,137 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $11,853,196 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**

$594,644 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) obligated**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects

Georgia

By the Numbers: (as of 3/21)

  • 9,374 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $13,446,678 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $9,947,703 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $3,498,975 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $8,091,998 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $4,032,082 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**

$3,486,596 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) obligated**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 3/21)

  • 1,467 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $7,736,801 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $6,124,045 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $1,612,756 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $4,200,815 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated, all for emergency work (Categories A-B)**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

U.S. Virgin Islands

By the Numbers: (as of 3/21)

  • 8,496 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $34,714,233 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $24,748,217 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $9,966,016 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $6,083,631 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $5,833,273 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $227,813 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) obligated**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.


HURRICANE HARVEY

FEMA

Texas

By the Numbers: (as of 3/21)

  • 371,613 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,579,795,031 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $1,195,269,500 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $384,525,531 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $633,026,626 Total Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**
  • $569,105,202 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) obligated**
  • $983,299 Permanent Work (Categories C-G) obligated**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.


Local Perspectives

Lawsuit Against HUD. Texas Housers has filed a lawsuit against HUD in federal district court, claiming that HUD has failed to enforce compliance with fair housing laws in Houston. Under the Administrative Procedure Act, HUD and other federal agencies would be required to withhold funding–including disaster relief funds–from a municipality that did not comply with civil rights and fair housing obligations. HUD and the City of Houston recently resolved a 2017 finding that revealed discriminatory practices on the basis of race, but Texas Housers alleges this agreement does nothing to end the city’s policies of segregation. The lawsuit would suspend CDBG-DR funds until Houston complies with the law. Read the lawsuit here.

Renters Left Out of Buyouts. Research from Texas Housers reveals more inequitable treatment of renters during recovery. An apartment complex receiving federal HUD funding as a project-based voucher recipient, Arbor Court, is next to Greens Bayou, which regularly floods during major weather events. During Hurricane Harvey, many residents needed to be rescued. Maps of the area surrounding the complex show that many empty lots border Greens Bayou, a result of a buyout program. While Harris County offered buyouts for homeowners, HUD has not offered an alternative for the Arbor Court tenants. Residents suggest Section 8 vouchers and new units in a safer location would be a more just outcome.


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