The following is a review of housing recovery developments related to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the California wildfires since last week’s Memo to Members and Partners (for the article in last week’s Memo, see 7/23). NLIHC also posts this information at our On the Home Front blog.
Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the “U.S. Territorial Relief Act of 2018” to terminate certain debt obligations for survivors of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The bill provides territorial relief for debt, creates a Puerto Rico debt restructuring compensation fund, and creates an audit commission in Puerto Rico.
HUD’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released its final review of whether the Office of Block Grant Assistance (OBGA) should codify the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program. Although OBGA had managed billions of dollars in CDBG-DR funds since 2002, it had not codified the program because it believed it did not have the authority to do so. The OIG recommends that the OBGA acting director work with its Office of General Counsel to codify the CDBG-DR program.
Current and displaced tenants of Arbor Court Apartments in Houston, TX, have filed a suit against HUD and the apartment owner over years of flooded apartments and dangerous and unsanitary conditions. The tenants are represented by Lone Star Legal Aid and Daniel and Beshara. The lawsuit seeks to end Arbor Court’s partnership with HUD and to provide tenants with Housing Choice Vouchers and other assistance to obtain affordable, safe, and decent housing.
An article in the Orlando Sentinel argues that victims of Hurricane Maria should receive the same assistance provided to survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. This includes standing up the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) which provides longer-term housing assistance to disaster survivors but which FEMA has refused to implement.
The Association of Pro Bono Counsel has partnered with the legal education company TalksOnLaw, the NY State Chief Judge's Task Force on Hurricane Relief, New York Legal Assistance Group, and celebrity spokesperson Adrienne Houghton to create a YouTube video, “5 Common FEMA Mistakes to Avoid”.