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 10/29). NLIHC also posts this information at our On the Home Front blog.
- According to an October 30 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% match from the grantee.
- 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 that 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 provider.
- Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush sent a letter on October 24 to Congress announcing a request made to HUD for “greater flexibility in the rules governing $4.383 billion in its Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) allocation for mitigation.” According to the Texas GLO press release, the letter asks for increased flexibilities to allow local officials to “determine the most effective use of mitigation funds.”
- The U.S. Virgin Islands government published a report, Transforming through Recovery: United States Virgin Islands First-Year Progress Report, detailing Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria recovery efforts 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 website. Eligible expenses include those for rent, utility bills, and home reconstruction and repairs. The applications must be postmarked by November 14.
- 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.
- Government Executive published an article on a new HUD “disaster standalone partial claims” program. Created in the wake of the 2017 disasters, the program aims to provide disaster survivors with access to “an interest-free second mortgage loan to cover up to one year of missed mortgage payments.” According to the article, however, low income homeowners face significant barriers when trying to access the program. “HUD’s recently updated program retains unnecessary roadblocks, potentially leaving many vulnerable homeowners out in the cold,” the article stated.
- According to a blog post in Earther, domestic violence advocates in Florida expect a surge in hotline calls and requests for domestic-violence services and 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 offering prevention and intervention services for victims of domestic violence and/or child abuse, saw a 62% increase in requests for survivor-related services. The blog post also links to sources citing surges in domestic violence following Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, and Sandy.