The following is a review of housing recovery developments related to Hurricanes Florence and Michael since last week’s Memo to Members and Partners (for the article in last week’s Memo, see 10/22). NLIHC also posts this information at our On the Home Front blog.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that 928 people are still unaccounted for two weeks after Hurricane Michael. The Red Cross believes this is an overestimation of the true number of missing individuals because people do not always follow up on missing people reports.
The National Employment Law Project has created a fact sheet for workers impacted by Hurricane Michael about how they can access Disaster Unemployment Assistance. There are also a number of other disaster-related resources on its webpage.
The Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program is available for survivors in Bay, Gulf, and Jackson counties. Under TSA, FEMA pays for temporary stays in hotel or motel rooms for eligible survivors.
FEMA published a map of Mobile Registration Intake Centers (MRIC) deployed across the Florida Panhandle to assist Hurricane Michael survivors apply for FEMA assistance and to make referrals to community partners. There are currently 11 MRICs listed.
The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) is available in 12 counties. D-SNAP, available for households that may not normally qualify for SNAP benefits, provides one month of benefits. To apply or learn more, visit the Florida Department of Children and Families D-SNAP webpage.
Any household or individual displaced due to Hurricane Michael may apply for USDA’s Rural Development Multi-Family Housing Program as a “displaced tenant” and receive priority admission to a USDA-financed apartment. Survivors who were already receiving USDA rental assistance for a unit that has been made uninhabitable can be transferred to another eligible apartment.
The Florida Housing Finance Corporation is helping those displaced by the storm find affordable rental housing through its service “Socialserve.” Those looking for housing can visit www.FloridaHousingSearch.org. Florida Housing will also activate the State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) program, which provides local governments funds for homeownership and rental housing programs. Each fiscal year, Florida Housing can earmark up to $5 million for recovery efforts.
Governor Rick Scott announced that utility providers are aiming to have nearly all power restored by early November. The electrical infrastructure in Calhoun and Jackson counties required a rebuild, and over half of customers in these areas are still without power. More than 400,000 households were without power following the storm; the number is now closer to 47,700.
An update from Governor Scott reports 1,480 people are staying in the nine shelters that remain open. The update also states that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is working with the Capital Area Action Agency to allow people in Franklin County to use surplus FEMA trailers while they seek other temporary housing solutions.
The Department of Health and Human Services has activated the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP) to provide uninsured Floridians free replacements of certain medical supplies, equipment, and medications lost or damaged by Hurricane Michael through November 15. Survivors can visit www.phe.gov/epap or call 855-793-7470 for more information.
The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has extended special Medicaid exceptions for recipients who reside in one of the 12 Hurricane Michael disaster-designated counties through November 9.
The Florida Healthy Kids Corporation announced it will cover KidCare insurance premiums for November, December, and January for families in the 12 counties impacted by Hurricane Michael. Coverage renewals for these families will also be extended until February 1, 2019.
Local Perspectives & Resources
This website has disaster legal aid resources specific to Florida.
Survivors in seven counties are now eligible to apply for Individual Assistance. Residents of Calhoun, Clay, Laurens, Randolph, Sumter, Tift, and Turner counties should apply for disaster assistance through DisasaterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362.
The deadline to apply for FEMA assistance is December 13.
Households that participate in the SNAP program and live in one of 23 counties can use their SNAP benefits to buy hot foods through November 17. This provides additional food options for survivors.
SNAP recipients in Georgia can report food loss due to Hurricane Michael by no later than October 31. Survivors must submit a Food Loss Replacement Form (Form 841) in person or by mail to a local DFCS office.
Governor Nathan Deal has called for a special legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly to amend the state budget to cover recovery and relief activities. The special session is set to begin on November 13.
A group of advocates from North and South Carolina have created a Story Map – a combination of interactive maps, photos, and text – that demonstrates the importance of civil legal help in the recovery process. Two additional maps show that more vulnerable populations were most heavily impacted by the storm in both North Carolina and South Carolina.
FEMA is now providing two forms of Direct Temporary Housing Assistance in ten North Carolina counties: travel trailers and manufactured housing units (MHUs). Trailers are intended for households that can complete repairs in less than a year, and MHUs are a longer-term solution for those with more substantial damage. FEMA will contact households that may eligible. These solutions are used in areas FEMA determines have insufficient rental options. An article in U.S. News & World Report states that at least 600 families are on the waiting list for travel trailers and manufactured homes, but only a handful have received their trailer or MHU.
An additional eight counties are eligible for Public Assistance (Categories A-G). Public Assistance (PA) Categories A & B provide reimbursement for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and other costs related to disaster recovery. Categories C–G provide funding for repairing and replacing damaged or destroyed infrastructure.
FEMA issued a public notice of its intent to provide assistance and grants through the Individual Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant programs. FEMA also released another notice of “its intent to take into account the impact of federal laws concerning historic preservation and civil rights on the federal assistance and grant opportunities it provides.” The pertinent laws include the National Historic Preservation Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
FEMA published several fact sheets regarding assistance in North Carolina. One discusses how FEMA determines if a home has “insufficient damage” and denies assistance. Denial of FEMA assistance can always be appealed. Others discuss the availability of funeral assistance and “Reasons Why You Might Have Been Found Ineligible by FEMA.”
Local Perspectives & Resources
Renters in Wilmington, NC, continue to struggle with the extreme housing shortage they face following Hurricane Florence. About 1,000 people were displaced after a large apartment complex closed the week of October 21. Many Wilmington residents are being forced to move several counties away to find housing options, and those with limited resources are even more constrained.
FEMA encourages South Caroline renters impacted by Hurricane Florence to apply for disaster assistance. Renters are eligible for a number of FEMA programs, including rental assistance to secure temporary housing, help with medical expenses, and funds to repair or replace vehicles. Applicants can always appeal the decision if FEMA denies assistance. The deadline to apply for FEMA assistance is November 20.