The following is a review of additional 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 5/29). NLIHC also posts this information at our On the Home Front blog.
President Donald Trump increased disaster assistance funding to Puerto Rico on May 23. Federal funding for emergency power restoration was extended for 90 days, and the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program was extended for 120 days. The administration also offered additional disaster assistance to the US Virgin Islands to allow projects protecting the islands from future storm damage to be entirely federally funded.
The Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) deadline for survivors of Hurricane Harvey in Texas has been extended to June 30 from its previous deadline of May 31.
State Action Plans
NLIHC submitted comments on Puerto Rico’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Action Plan and signed onto a letter prepared by leaders in Puerto Rico with more than 50 other organizations from the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC).
West Street Recovery, a grassroots mutual aid group that supports Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts, has released recommendations to improve the Partial Repair and Essential Power for Sheltering (PREPS) program. PREPS aims to provide temporary repairs to owner-occupied, single-family residences, allowing homeowners to live in their homes while completing permanent repairs. The group’s recommendations include improving communications and protocols for repairs, standards for homes and repairs, and home safety.
A U.S. Virgin Islands hurricane recovery website managed by the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority has been launched to track the spending of the nearly $2 billion awarded to the territory.
Politico details the struggles low-income and minority residents in Houston face navigating the bureaucracy to receive disaster aid. Those who did secure assistance were awarded an average of $4,300, which fails to cover even minimal repairs. “When it comes to some of the most challenging needs, it’s like no one wants to be stuck holding the hot potato,” Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, is quoted as saying. “Congress says its FEMA’s job. And FEMA says it a state’s job. And states are often now saying it’s the local government’s job. No one wants to be left saying we hold the responsibility for making sure the lowest-income people are at least made whole after a disaster.”
A January census conducted in Houston found that Hurricane Harvey led to an increase in homelessness in the city. About 18% of unsheltered homeless individuals reported that they became homeless due to the disaster.
NeighborWorks America has updated its “Navigating the Road to Housing Recovery” guide for individuals and families.