As the scope of the damage becomes clear, experts and policymakers are stressing just how important housing solutions will be for long-term recovery from Hurricane Harvey. Vice President Mike Pence said that “housing is the biggest long-term concern in the hurricane zone.” Current FEMA director Brock Long said, “the state of Texas is about to undergo one of the largest recovery-housing missions that the nation has ever seen,” and experts like former FEMA director Craig Fugate have predicted that the “primary largest impact on the region will be housing.”
BY THE NUMBERS
- $23.5 million in individual assistance has been approved by FEMA; Of this amount, only $647,000 has gone toward housing assistance, while nearly $23 million will cover other needs, such as child care, medical expenses, funeral and burial costs and transportation;
- 45,000+ applications for individual assistance have been approved; 195,000+ individuals have applied for assistance so far, but FEMA expects has many as 450,000 people will apply.
- Currently, 30,000+ people are living in temporary shelter; 1,800 people have been placed in hotels and motels under FEMA’s transitional shelter assistance program.
- 2,000+ manufactured FEMA homes are being sent to the area and another 4,000 have been ordered.
- Only 16% of homes in the counties declared a federal disaster area have flood insurance through the federal flood-insurance program.
- $2.8 billion is currently in FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, with $1.3 billion available for Harvey recovery; when Congress enacts a Continuing Resolution by October 1, this account will be replenished to $6.7 billion.
LOCAL RESOURCES AND UPDATES
- Texas Low Income Housing Information Services has a blog post with 5 principles for just and equitable treatment for survivors of Harvey with low incomes
- Lone Star Legal Aid has infographics and information on immigrants’ rights during a disaster. Please circulate widely.
- Texas Appleseed’s Maddie Sloan has a helpful blog post up: What Texas Knows from Previous Disasters
We’ve been in close touch with key Congressional leaders. The Texas delegation has begun conversations about disaster aid with House and Senate leaders, FEMA, and the White House. Republican leaders have said (although this is certainly subject to change) that Congress will take up a limited disaster aid bill in mid-September, with additional resources to follow at the end of the month when Congress enacts a Continuing Resolution and afterwards. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) is calling for $150 billion in aid to assist in recovery efforts. Republicans in the delegation are also calling for significant disaster recovery funding from Congress.
- FEMA’s website devoted to Texas Hurricane Harvey lists the designated areas currently eligible for three forms of assistance:
- Public Assistance grant program provides assistance to government organizations and certain private nonprofit organizations to repair or replace disaster-damaged facilities.
- Hazard mitigation grants provide assistance to state and local governments and certain private nonprofits to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural disasters.
- Individuals and Households Program (IHP) provides for certain housing and other needs. Housing needs covered include temporary housing, lodging expense reimbursement, and costs not covered by insurance to repair or replace owner-occupied homes. Other needs covered include the cost of: child care, medical and dental treatment, funerals, damage to household item such as appliances, vehicle damage, clean up, and moving and storage.
HUD and USDA
- Housing Counseling: The Office of Housing Counseling is encouraging all housing counseling agencies impacted in Texas and the surrounding region to review the Hurricane Harvey Resource Page for Housing Counselors and the Housing Counseling Disaster Recovery and Emergency Preparedness Toolkit located on HUD Exchange. It contains disaster recovery and emergency preparedness resources specifically for housing counseling programs. The toolkit provides immediate access to Disaster Recovery Flyers, the Housing Counseling Disaster Program Guide and other HUD, FEMA, and other helpful resources.
- Homelessness: The HUD Exchange has an in-depth guides for meeting the needs of people experiencing homelessness disaster response and recovery.
- Rural Development: RD has created a webpage, outlining assistance available after a disaster for displaced residents, owners of USDA-financed multifamily housing, and homeowners with USDA loan.
- Civil Rights: DOJ, HHS, HUD, DOT, and Homeland Security issued joint guidance on August 16 to help ensure that recipients of federal financial assistance do not discriminate against individuals and communities on the basis of race, color or nation origin when providing emergency preparedness, response and recovery services:https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/federal-agencies-issue-joint-guidance-help-emergency-preparedness-response-and-recovery
- The Council of Federal Home Loan Banks just announced a $1 million donation toward immediate disaster relief and a $7 million program to aid in the restoration of their communities, homes and businesses
- The Mortgage Bankers Association published a helpful guide for homeowners and renters (attached). More information can be found on their website.
- Fannie Mae has implemented a 90-day foreclosure sale suspension and a 90-day eviction suspension for borrowers with properties located within a FEMA- declared disaster area that are eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance.
- Freddie Mac has authorized mortgage companies to suspend mortgage payments for up to 12 months, among other things.
More to come