The following is a review of additional housing recovery developments related to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the 2017 California wildfires since last week’s Memo to Members and Partners (for the article in last week’s Memo, see 9/17). NLIHC also posts this information at On the Home Front.
Federal Response to 2017 Disasters
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posted a video on housing title issues and FEMA individual assistance denials in Puerto Rico, titled “American Citizens Are Being Denied Disaster Aid.”
Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) has filed H.R. 6826, a bill to amend the Small Business Act to provide for disaster loans to repair, rehabilitate, or replace property damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria.
HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will hold a meeting on Tuesday, September 25 to discuss ongoing Hurricane Maria recovery efforts for multifamily owners of properties in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Registration is open until COB on September 21. Register for the Spanish session here and the English session here.
Hundreds of Hurricane Maria survivors still without homes were evicted on September 14 from temporary shelter in hotels provided by FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program. NBC News published a comprehensive story on the end of TSA in the absence of the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP). Pastor Jose Rodriguez from Iglesia Episcopal Jesus de Nazaret in Orlando Florida said, "In a day or two, the people will be trickling out into the streets."
The Department of Housing and Community Development of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has provided transitional funds for up to 12 months for households affected by Hurricane Maria. The Massachusetts Evacuee Transitional Assistance Reserve (METAR) will assist with moving expenses, rent, and first or last month’s rent or security deposits for those transitioning from shelters into more suitable housing. Hurricane Maria evacuees on state-aided public housing waitlists are Priority 1 (Displaced by Natural Forces). The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency provided a notification to FEMA evacuees hosted by the Commonwealth.
A Wall Street Journal article reports the government of Puerto Rico is offering homeowners federal financial assistance only if they move out of flood-prone areas—not wanting to rebuild on land that is vulnerable to soil erosion and chronic flooding from storms like Hurricane Maria. Advocates say that many living in neighborhoods targeted for relocation are unaware of these discussions and have not been included in the process.
The New York Times published a letter to the editor on September 12 by Saundra Brown with Lone Star Legal Aid responding to the September 3 article “A Year After Hurricane Harvey.” Ms. Brown states that the poorest of Hurricane Harvey survivors became "entangled in disputes and complications with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”
A new study published in The Journal of Emergency Management found that people displaced by Super Storm Sandy were more likely to have PTSD, anxiety, and stress compared to people who were not displaced or were able to stay with friends or family.
An article from NPR shares the stories of several low income families struggling to recover following recent fires in California. Many low income families and individuals may not have renters’ insurance and receive help for only a small portion of their needs from FEMA. Poverty rates frequently increase in counties impacted by disaster since wealthier residents leave and lower income residents become poorer.