Disaster Housing Recovery Updates – December 6, 2021

National Updates

Enterprise Community Partners and Morgan Stanley launched on November 23 the Disaster Recovery Accelerator Fund, a $25 million initiative to reduce the time it takes for relief dollars to reach owners of multifamily affordable rental properties after natural disasters. The fund will provide affordable rental property owners access to the capital they need to begin rebuilding immediately after a disaster while they wait for disaster relief from HUD. The fund will launch immediately through a pilot program in Iowa, Louisiana, and Oregon – three of the states selected to receive federal disaster recovery aid through HUD’s CDBG-DR program. The New York Times reports on the new disaster bridge loan program.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

HUD released its Climate Action Plan on November 17, which details a strategy to reduce HUD’s energy and carbon footprint and build more equitable, efficient, and sustainable housing infrastructure. As part of the Climate Action Plan, HUD will revise environmental review policies to ensure consideration of climate- and environmental justice-related hazards and health risks in all proposed site selection and placement of new assistance activities. The agency will continue to collaborate with local agencies and organizations to help those impacted communities identify available resources and appropriate solutions to eliminate hazards and improve residents’ overall health.

Are you a housing provider in or near a disaster-impacted area? If you have vacant units, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) wants to know. The agency is operating a pilot program to collect information on alternative housing for those displaced from their homes by disasters. Let HUD know through a survey form here. Filling out this form is completely non-binding, and information will be shared directly with HUD offices and FEMA.

Hurricane Updates

The active 2021 Atlantic hurricane season officially concluded on November 30. The season produced 21 named storms, including seven hurricanes, four of which were major hurricanes. Read the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s statement on the hurricane season.

The Conversation outlines how the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season demonstrated the disproportionate impact of natural disasters on low-income communities. The article highlights how the legacy of segregation in the U.S. has led to low-income communities being more likely to live in high-risk areas. FEMA aid favors wealthier homeowners, leaving low-income communities most in need of assistance without the resources they need to recover.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter announced on November 22 the launch of an $11.3 million housing program to help Lake Charles residents recover from Hurricane Laura, Hurricane Delta, and the May 2021 flood. The funds will be used for two programs: the COLC Home Rehabilitation and Recovery Program and the City of Lake Charles Small Rental Rehabilitation Program. In addition to the $5.3 million in CDBG funds from HUD, Lake Charles has committed $1.3 million in HOME funds and another $700,000 in CDBG. The Louisiana Housing Corporation committed $3 million in HOME funds and $1 million in national Housing Trust Fund program dollars.

Southerly examines how, without federal recognition, many of Louisiana’s coastal tribes are left navigating a complex bureaucracy of parish, state, and federal agencies in attempts to get critical disaster recovery resources. The article outlines the barriers tribal leaders face in accessing individual assistance for their members and public assistance for their tribes.

CNN reports that three months after Hurricane Ida, the town of Jean Lafitte near New Orleans is still struggling with the devastation wrought by the storm. A significant portion of residents became homeless overnight, and the most marginalized are priced out of insurance or have been denied FEMA aid due to lack of proof of occupancy. Long-term recovery efforts for the community have been slow, and nonprofits are calling for volunteers and donors to help with the efforts.

While the November 29 deadline to apply for Hurricane Ida aid has passed, FEMA will remain in Louisiana to assist survivors. The deadline for New Jersey and New York survivors of Hurricane Ida to apply for FEMA is December 6. FEMA released an update on Hurricane Ida recovery resources in New York.

Spectrum News reports New York City has helped 380 families – most of whom reside in basement units – displaced by Hurricane Ida find temporary housing in hotels. Families were initially scattered in hotels across the five boroughs, but on November 15, the city ordered the remaining 200 families be moved into two hotels in Brooklyn. Residents say the sudden relocation has been chaotic, and many have not yet met with caseworkers who are supposed to help them identify long-term solutions. Mayor Bill de Blasio called on FEMA on November 24 to provide more aid for individuals displaced by Ida.

Flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida damaged a low-income apartment complex with 90 units in Norristown, PA, forcing tenants to evacuate. Those individuals are part of the 174 households in Montgomery County that Ida rendered homeless. They are currently residing in hotel rooms funded by the county.