- FEMA has approved 19,538 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $78.3 million for all Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
- Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio as well as Representatives Neal Dunn, Al Lawson, and Matt Gaetz sent a letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long on October 26 urging him to immediately approve the state’s request for direct housing assistance. The DHRC also sent a letter to FEMA the same day, urging the agency to implement the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) and immediately provide shelter options like trailers or manufactured housing units.
- Survivors can use FEMA assistance through the Temporary Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program in only one motel in all of Bay County, where Panama City is located. Many of the other hotels were destroyed, are housing emergency workers and first responders, or not participating. Those displaced have virtually no local options for shelter, and schools are being used to shelter hundreds of the displaced. The county is currently working on finding additional spaces to serve as shelters so they can reopen schools, and Bay District Schools will provide teachers and other school staff with on-site child care. The lack of housing and destruction of many local businesses is causing many survivors to move out of the area. FEMA has announced it will begin providing trailers, although FEMA spokeswoman Nikki Gaskins stated, “It’s not FEMA’s decision in the long-run. We’re working to make those decisions with the state and local governments.” A brief summary of the ongoing housing crisis in the Panama City area can be found here.
- Secretary Ben Carson, Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, and Representative Neal Dunn (R-FL) spoke with local leaders in Panama City today about recovery efforts. A tweet from Secretary Carson states that HUD “will speed federal disaster assistance to FL & provide support to homeowners & low-income renters who were forced from their homes.”
- FEMA has approved 2,566 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $6.4 million for all Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
- FEMA has approved 30,728 Individual Assistance (IA) applications, $108.7 million for all Individual and Households programs (IHP), and $226,503 in Public Assistance Grants. Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
- NLIHC analysis of FEMA data from October 22 shows that the Agency has denied assistance to over half of the survivors who have applied and approved only 23% of the over 103,000 applications. Eight-one percentof denials are due to “insufficient damage.”
- FEMA issued a final notice to the public stating that it will place temporary housing units on commercial and/or private land located in or affecting a floodplain or wetland. The initial notice was published on September 27 for comment. FEMA will immediately begin to place the housing units in the 13 counties approved for direct temporary housing assistance.
- The deadline to apply for FEMA assistance is November 13.
- Residents in Chatham, Durham, and Gilford counties are now eligible for USDA’s Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP). Residents in 27 other counties are already eligible for these benefits.
- The North Carolina Department of Public Safety reports that 408 households (1,139 people) are checked into hotels through FEMA’s TSA program, and 140 people remain in 4 shelters.
- The North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management estimates that Hurricane Florence caused nearly $17 billion in damage, an increase from a previous estimate of $13 billion. The agency will continue to update the estimate as new information becomes available.
Local Perspective and Resources
- Hurricane Florence caused a housing shortage at several military bases in the Carolinas, leaving more than 100 veterans and their families with 30 days to leave their homes to make space for displaced active duty service members. The Atlantic Marine Corp Communities property management company reports that nearly 70% of its inventory sustained at least some damage and 150 homes were destroyed completely.
- The Salvation Army in North Carolina received a $150,000 grant from the N.C. Disaster Relief Fund to help displaced families find housing. The organization is focusing on helping those who lost their jobs due to the hurricane.
- Mayor of Wilmington, Surf City, and New Bern as well as Pender County officials traveled to Washington,DC, this week to continue to push for additional hurricane relief. They met with officials from FEMA, SBA, HUD, and the departments of Transportation and Education.
- Residents of Carteret County, NC, wrote a letter to the editor of the Carteret County News-Times on October 2 describing the urgent need for housing assistance following Hurricane Florence. According to the letter, residents of more than 200 apartment units in the county have been evicted due to hurricane damage, displacing at least 500 people with no place to go. The letter also highlights that FEMA’s answer has been to provide lists of hotel rooms, “most of which are 50+ miles away, and most of which are booked up.”
- FEMA has approved 4,538 Individual Assistance (IA) applications and $19.3 million for all Individual and Households programs (IHP). Dollars or applications approved does not necessarily mean money has been distributed.
- According to a FEMA press release, the Agency recently reimbursed the City of Houston $3.3 million for sheltering 897 households following Hurricane Harvey. The city contracted with the Houston Housing Authority and Residences on Emancipation to provide the shelter program costing $3.7 million. Ninety percent of the cost is to be reimbursed through FEMA’s Public Assistance grant program with a 10 percent match from the applicant.
- The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has awarded $14,145,055 in 11 disaster relief grants to legal aid organizations in California, Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the Virgin Islands. The grants were funded through the $89.3 billion emergency supplemental appropriations law, which was passed to address the needs of survivors of the 2017 hurricanes and wildfires. According to an LSC press release, the grants support “projects that mobilize pro bono attorneys, enhance online resources for survivors, and improve communication and cooperation among legal aid clients, pro bono attorneys, and partner organizations.” See this website to find your local grantee.
- Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush sent a letter to Congress announcing a request made to HUD for “greater flexibility in the rules governing $4.383 billion in Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) allocation for mitigation.” According to the Texas GLO press release, the letter asks for increased flexibility in the use of mitigation funds to allow local officials to “determine the most effective use of mitigation funds.”
- The U.S. Virgin Islands government published a report titled, Transforming through Recovery: United States Virgin Islands First-Year Progress Report. The report details the Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria recoveries in energy, housing, healthcare, education, transportation, and other areas.
- The Golden State Financing Authority and Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) have made available grants of $500 to $2,500 to California households impacted by the 2017 wildfires. Eligibility information and application instructions are available on the Napa County, California, website. Eligible expenses include rental assistance, utility bills, and home reconstruction and repairs. The applications must be postmarked by November 14, 2018.
- An article in Emergency Preparedness featured the partnership between the City of Houston and two private firms, Dewberry and Civis Analytics to “run predictive models of the storm to determine how it impacted communities, and which communities it impacted the most.” The data generated through this partnership led the City of Houston to request an additional $2 billion to cover unmet housing needs related.
- Government Executive published an article on the HUD disaster standalone partial claims program. This program, which was created in the wake of the 2017 disasters, aims to provide disaster survivors with access to “an interest-free second mortgage loan to cover up to one year of missed mortgage payments.” However, according to the article, low income homeowners face significant barriers when trying to access the program. According to the article, “HUD’s recently updated program retains unnecessary roadblocks, potentially leaving many vulnerable homeowners out in the cold.”
- According to a blog post in Earther, domestic violence advocates in Florida expect a surge in hotline calls and requests for domestic-violence services such as shelter following Hurricane Michael in Florida. The number of domestic victims who sought help from a Houston-area crisis center more than doubled in the months following Hurricane Harvey. ESCAPE, an organization in Puerto Rico which offers prevention and intervention services for domestic violence and child abuse cases, saw a 62% increase in requests for survivor-related services. The blog post also links to sources that cite surges in domestic violence following Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, and Sandy.