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.
- Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), and Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) held a press conference on September 14 at which they discussed the unfinished business of hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Read the full remarks here.
- Rebuild Florida, a partnership between the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and HUD, is now accepting applications for the Housing Repair and Replacement Program. The program targets assistance to low and moderate income families, limiting eligibility to households with annual gross incomes at or below 80% of the area median income, adjusted for family size. Qualifying properties include homes occupied by homeowners or renters located within the designated list of Most Impacted and Distressed Communities. The Florida DEO addresses some basic information about the program here.
- The Puerto Rico Department of Housing and the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction, and Resiliency released a draft of the Substantial Amendment to the Puerto Rico Disaster Recovery Action Plans for distributing Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds. The draft amendment requests an additional allocation of $8.2 billion to address unmet needs for long-term recovery from the effects of the 2017 hurricanes. HUD requirements are available in the August 14, 2018 Federal Register. The announcement (in Spanish here) from the Puerto Rico Department of Housing includes locations, dates, and times for upcoming public hearings on the Substantial Amendment draft. Comments from the public are being accepted now through October 21. Comments can be submitted online at http://www.cdbg-dr.pr.gov/contact/, via telephone by calling 787-274-2527, by email to infoCDBG@vivienda.pr.gov, or in writing to Puerto Rico CDBG-DR Program, P.O. Box 21365, San Juan, PR 00928-1365.
- The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) announced it will hold a series of meetings between October 2 and October 11 in five communities across the state to discuss proposed recovery programs, program eligibility, and timelines for funding. A factsheet detailing the state’s plan for deploying CDBG-DR funds is available online.
- According to reporting from the New York Times, disaster recovery efforts in Puerto Rico failed to take into account the poverty that affected the island before the storm. The article highlights stories of residents in Punta Santiago who continue living in uninhabitable, unsanitary, and unsafe homes. Additionally, FEMA’s efforts in Puerto Rico are compared with disaster recovery efforts in Texas, where “FEMA spent nearly twice as much for housing repair grants . . . though the money went to 51,000 fewer people.”
- Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) member Adi Martinez of Fundación Fondo de Acceso a la Justicia was quoted in the Miami Herald and the New York Daily News. Both articles provide information on how federal aid has been denied to residents of Puerto Rico based on regulations that require recipients to provide a title or deed to prove property or home ownership. Many Puerto Rican residents do not have formal documents for their owned property and have been denied FEMA assistance as a result.
- A story by Orlando-based NPR affiliate WMFE detailed the experiences of Hurricane Maria evacuees from Puerto Rico now located in Florida, who were evicted from their hotels after a U.S. District Court Judge allowed the FEMA Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) hotel shelter program to end on September 13. According to the article, central Florida’s stock of affordable housing is limited, and survivors are struggling to identify available units.
- A blog post by DHRC member and NLIHC state partner Texas Housers describes the ongoing housing challenges facing the low income, majority African American neighborhood of Charlton Pollard, which was impacted by hurricanes Rita and Ike. The blog post compares Charlton Pollard’s experience to the ongoing recovery process of low income communities in Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey.
- The National Bureau of Economic Research published a paper last year that analyzed 90 years of natural disaster data. The report found an average increase of 1% in a county's poverty rate post-disaster when those with resources leave, and it found that those in poverty who are left behind go deeper into poverty.