Additional Disaster Housing Recovery Updates – August 5, 2019

The following is a review of additional disaster housing recovery developments since the last edition of Memo to Members and Partners (for the article in the previous Memo, see 7/29).

Federal Action

In an op-ed in The Hill, FEMA Deputy Administrator for Resiliency Daniel Kaniewski called for low-income families without access to banks or savings to practice “financial resiliency” and have insurance, bank accounts, and substantial amounts of cash in their homes because FEMA’s Individual Assistance (IA) program was never meant to pay for their entire recovery. 

Members of Congress are pushing for updated flood maps, flood insurance reforms, and expanded disaster relief programs to fight the effects of climate change. 

A “2019 Research Report” by Climate Central and Zillow found that housing development in flood-risk zones over the past 10 years has surpassed that of development in safe locations for several states. In some states, like Connecticut, development has been up to three times faster. 

According to the “2019 Global Report on Displacement,” almost 10% of all disaster-related displacements in 2018 occurred in the United States. This rise was spurred by multiple disasters and the, nation’s growing increasing housing affordability crisis. 

California Wildfires 

While home recovery in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods of Redding, CA, is close to halfway done, recovery for dwellings in Shasta County for mobile homes and garages lags behind.

Direct Relief conducted a study that found “social vulnerability factors,” such as income, age, housing situation, vehicle ownership, and disability, can help to predict how devastated a community will be after a disaster and how successfully it will be able to rebuild.

2018 Hawaii Eruption 

On the Big Island of Hawaii, experts are warning that recovery from the 2018 volcano eruption could take as long as five years while the state fights for a greater share of disaster recovery dollars. 

Hurricane Michael


The Florida Housing Coalition, a Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) member and NLIHC state partner, released a report detailing both federal and state-level reforms needed to improve the disaster recovery process in Florida. The recommendations ranged from the creation of a statewide disaster recovery authority to the passage of the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act, a bill supported by the DHRC. 

Hurricane Florence

North Carolina

North Carolina has spent only 6% of the funds awarded for Hurricane Matthew recovery. Now, the owners of multiple homes damaged by both Hurricanes Matthew and Florence in Spring Lake are relying solely on the volunteer work of neighbors to rebuild. 

A recently passed state law has shifted some recovery funding from a Winston-Salem-based contractor to contractors in four seaside towns damaged by Hurricane Florence. Town officials had wondered why a contractor from another part of the state received the contract over local firms. 

2017 Disasters

Hurricane Irma: US Virgin Islands Delegate Stacey Plaskett called for FEMA to allow multiple recovery projects on the islands to move forward. Those projects have been on hold pending the release of FEMA guidance.    

Hurricane Harvey: An investigation by ICF Incorporated issued in June found that $1.7 million have been spent on Houston recovery when, as of June, only four people had received aid. This month, the numbers are only slightly higher: Ten people have completed or are pending construction, three are in loan closing, and nine have a pending environmental approval.