Thanks for such an overwhelmingly positive response for next week’s call to discuss Hurricane Harvey Housing Recovery. Please continue to share the invite with others or to send me the names of other people/orgs interested in participating.
- The Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, an NLIHC state partner, released this video of John Henneberger breaking down what’s ahead for Hurricane Harvey recovery – I highly recommend you watch. John has extensive experience with disaster recovery in Texas and works closely with partners, advocates and impacted people in Houston and beyond.
- Texas Tribune published a list of resources for individuals seeking shelter and other basic needs for circulation to your networks:https://www.texastribune.org/2017/08/28/hurricane-harvey-relief-efforts-how-help/
- Register for Assistance: The most important first step for disaster recovery assistance is for impacted people to register with FEMA. Please circulate this information to your networks – people can register at www.disasterassistance.gov or call (800) 621-FEMA (3362). Individuals who have speech disabilities or hearing loss and use TTY should call (800) 462-7585 directly; those who use 711 or Video Relay Service should call (800) 621-3362. Both toll-free numbers will be operational from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time seven days a week until further notice, according to FEMA.
- Temporary Housing Assistance Providers: Attached is a questionnaire for potential housing providers to help FEMA understand what housing options are available for displaced individuals and families. Any third party/private sector entities sending inquiries about available housing solutions should email Femaemail@example.com.
- Secretary Carson announced HUD will speed federal disaster assistance to Texas – this includes reallocating existing federal dollars toward disaster recovery – including current CDBG and HOME funds – offering Section 108 loan guarantee assistance, and foreclosure relief and insurance under its FHA/mortgage programs. A link to his statement is here: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2017/HUDNo_17-068
- Office of Multifamily Housing Programs has started its process of contacting owners and agents to determine damage assessments and vacancies for displaced persons. They expect to have responses from HUD property contacts soon and will use this info, in addition to the FEMA damage assessments that will take place in the coming days and weeks, to put together the Administration’s funding request from Congress. PIH staff are also reaching out to PHAs in the impacted region for initial public housing damage assessments.
- Tax Extensions: IRS announced that people living in 18 Texas counties affected by Hurricane Harvey will have until Jan. 31, 2018, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments. The IRS webpage for this announcement is down right now, but you can read more here:https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2017/08/28/irs-announces-tax-relief-for-taxpayers-affected-by-hurricane-harvey/#3223255142fe
- Housing Credit: IRS also issued temporary relief from some regulations for Housing Credit agencies and owners in impacted areas:
- Novogradac has published a blogpost explain the IRS procedures and how LIHTC properties can help families displaced by Hurricane Harvey.
After FEMA and HUD have time to assess the damage from the hurricane, OMB will send a formal request to Congress for disaster aid, typically including CDBG -Disaster Relief funds and Disaster Housing Vouchers. Congress will also likely look to provide tax relief to impacted communities, possibly included a disaster LIHTC allocation. We have been in touch with key members of Congress and at HUD, OMB and the White House to work with them as a disaster relief package moves forward.
Timing is a little uncertain, as with all disasters but especially in this Congress. Some resources may be tied to a Continuing Resolution or final appropriations bill, which Congress must enact by October 1 or risk a government shutdown. Congressional leadership have begun informally debating whether disaster supplemental spending will be doled out over a series of small bills, or through one large relief bill like the ones enacted after Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina. In either case, we’ll have our work cut out for us - Texas Senators Cornyn and Cruz voted against disaster relief in the past, and Vice President Pence and OMB Director Mulvaney led (failed) efforts to offset disaster aid with deep cuts to other programs when they served in the U.S. House of Representatives.
More to come…