The following is a review of disaster housing recovery developments since the last edition of Memo to Members and Partners (for the article in the previous Memo, see 4/15).
General Resources and Updates
A recent article in Reuters quotes several members of the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition and discusses the “nationwide gaps in the post-disaster social safety net for people in non-traditional housing situations, such as those living in mobile or rental homes and the homeless.”
The Urban Institute released a new report, Insult to Injury: Natural Disasters and Residents’ Financial Health, which analyzes the negative impacts disasters can have on households’ financial well-being (see separate article in this week’s Memo). The Urban Institute is holding a webinar about this new research on April 30 at 12:00 p.m. ET. The webinar will share new Urban Institute estimates of the impact of recent natural disasters on residents’ financial outcomes and highlight implications and strategies for disaster preparation and recovery for government leaders at the federal, state and local levels, as well as for philanthropy, nonprofit leaders, and regulators.
Nebraska Labor Commissioner John H. Albin announced that 12 additional counties are eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). The filing deadline is May 13.
Nebraska residents seeking federal assistance have expressed frustration with the absence of FEMA Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) funds, which were not activated for Nebraska. FEMA has instead made all funds available through its Rental Assistance program.
Pottawattamie and Shelby counties have been added to the Presidential Disaster Declaration. Homeowners, renters, and businesses in these counties can now apply for federal individual assistance.
Governor Kim Reynolds (R) issued an executive order establishing a 15-member Flood Recovery Advisory Board to coordinate recovery efforts, for which she will be the chairwoman. She has also requested $25 million from the state legislature, $10 million of which would be for workforce housing tax credits in impacted areas.
2018 California Wildfires
The California Department of Parks and Recreation is working with FEMA to set up several hundred travel trailers for Camp Fire survivors in Butte County. The newest trailer community was set up at a camping area in the park in Oroville, for which residents were chosen by social workers from a list of applicants. The residents will be allowed to live in the trailers for free for approximately one year.
Survivors of the Camp Fire are still plagued by a range of issues, including inadequate housing and overcrowded medical facilities. Brianna Sacks, a Buzzfeed reporter who has been traveling to Butte County for months, appeared on the podcast The Takeaway to discuss what she has seen.
Governor Roy Cooper (D) announced the extension of the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program using state funds. The program will provide partial repairs to an additional 202 single-family homes in 12 counties. He also reported that North Carolina will receive a $12.2 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and FEMA to expand crisis-counseling services to Hurricane Florence survivors in 28 counties.
After Hurricane Florence, more than 700 residents were forced to move out of Market North Apartments, a HUD-assisted community in Wilmington. Months later, the county’s public records show no active permits for repair work at Market North, and former residents are growing concerned the property will be sold and re-developed into luxury units.
The apartment of a resident from Craven Terrace, a housing complex in Greenville with 319 units, has been beset with black mold three times. Workers from the complex say mold and mildew are coming from water damage left from Hurricane Florence.
FEMA's temporary housing program for Hurricane Irma survivors in Florida ended in March, forcing some low-income households in the Florida Keys into homelessness. The Keys already faced an affordable housing crisis prior to Irma and now have even fewer homes to house the workers needed for the area’s tourism industry. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) recently announced an initiative to help the Florida Keys recover that includes $90 million for affordable housing.
In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Housing Finance Authority is using HUD recovery funds for a new program called EnVIsion Tomorrow that will provide financial assistance to eligible homeowners. EnVIsion Tomorrow case managers will contact homeowners previously enrolled in FEMA’s Emergency Home Repair Program.