The following is a review of housing recovery developments related to 2017 and 2018 disasters since last week’s Memo to Members and Partners (for the articles in last week’s Memo, see 2018 Disasters and 2017 Disasters). NLIHC also posts this information at our On the Home Front blog.
FEMA published several factsheets that provide information about why applicants may not have received FEMA assistance. FEMA can deny assistance if an inspection finds “insufficient damage” to the home. Inspectors decide if a home is still safe, sanitary, and functional, which covers basics such as toilets, a roof, utilities, windows, and doors. Applicants can appeal FEMA’s decision to deny assistance because of insufficient damage but need third-party documentation.
Florida Department of Education (FDOE) has an up-to-date list of school closure and reopening dates.
FEMA encourages renters in Georgia displaced by Hurricane Michael to apply for federal disaster assistance, which could provide financial help for rent, moving expenses, and child care. The deadline to apply for federal assistance in Georgia is December 13.
Residents of 20 Georgia counties are now eligible for Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP). D-SNAP provides a month of benefits to help families meet their food needs following a disaster.
Many of the 220 residents of Trent Court, a public housing complex in New Bern, are still waiting to learn when they might be able to return to their homes. Displaced residents have been relocated or are staying with family or friends.
An article in the Carolina Public Press highlights the impact Hurricane Florence has had on rural inland areas of the state like Chatham County and the town of Robbins.
According to insurancejournal.com, residents of Cheraw, SC, are suing Highland Industries for “failing to clean up a toxic mess” which was exacerbated by over two feet of flooding caused by Hurricane Florence. The lawsuit was also featured by the Greenville News.
FEMA and the Government of Puerto Rico have opened Community Recovery Centers (CRCs) throughout the territory. According to a FEMA press release, “representatives from local and volunteer agencies are available at centers across the island to provide assistance with housing repairs, commodities and clothing, rental resources, FEMA case review, emotional and spiritual wellness services and legal services.”
The City of Houston announced it removed the income cap for one of the Harvey Homeowner Assistance Programs (HoAPs) in a new version of the HoAP guidelines, which is open for public comment until November 30. The revised plan removes the 120% of area median income (AMI) income cap for the reimbursement program, making $150 million available to families above the 120% of AMI threshold. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner stated that more than 80% of the overall funding “will be available for families who are low- and moderate-income.”
Local Perspectives and Resources
Advocates from Texas groups working on disaster recovery – including several from NLIHC state partner and Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition member Texas Housers – recently traveled to Puerto Rico to meet with their counterparts on the island. The Texas and Puerto groups discussed recovery issues their communities have faced and shared best practices and strategies to ensure equitable recovery.
Researchers at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) are studying the impacts of Hurricane Irma as part of the Communities in Transition Initiative. Research topics include flood mitigation, resiliency traditions, avoiding water contamination, and medical outcomes. Learn more about the research projects here.
An article published by NBC News chronicles the ongoing challenges of rebuilding homes destroyed by Hurricane Maria on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.
A story in the Victoria Advocate follows a Texas mother and her seven children who found themselves homeless in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The story is the second installment in a series called “Hidden in Plain Sight,” which examines how Hurricane Harvey could exacerbate wealth inequality in South Texas.
Disaster Legal Aid is hosting a virtual group discussion on Tuesday November 13 at 4:00 p.m. ET to discuss “Disaster Legal Aid & Insurance.” The meeting will be relevant for legal aid staff, pro bono attorneys, and public interest advocates engaged in disaster-relief efforts.