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 2/03).
Federal Action and National News
A blog post from the Center for American Progress argues for three major moves the federal government should make in order to prepare for climate change. One of them is passing the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC)-supported “Reforming Disaster Recovery Act.”
Architect Ricardo Álvarez-Díaz highlights post-disaster reconstruction as an opportunity to create both stronger infrastructure and communities. Mr. Álvarez-Díaz writes that “utilizing resilient design” better positions localities to withstand the impacts of natural disasters.
St. Joseph County, IN, and FEMA are providing $2.8 million dollars to demolish 16 homes that are prone to flooding. The land would be turned into open grass space and the county will not allow further building on the property. Residents express mixed opinions about the policy.
Tropical Storm Imelda and Hurricane Harvey
HUD released a set of mandatory rules that will guide how Texas officials use more than $285 million in federal disaster relief funding.
San Marcos, TX, seeks public comments regarding a proposed draft of its $24 million Community Development Block Grant-Mitigation Action Plan and proposed amendments to its $33 million CDBG Action Plan for Disaster Recovery.
Presidential candidates responded to a question posed by the The Desert Sun newspaper about how to confront wildfires in California. Housing was a priority in many of their answers.
Sonoma County, CA, officials discuss the use of nearly $1 billion in federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs). Local officials are concerned that the state intends to use all of the tax credits for homeless housing projects throughout the state. County officials want the tax credits to be used solely for rebuilding housing in in wildfire-affected areas. State officials assert that they propose using only unused funds for homeless housing. Because LIHTCs are vital for financing the rebuilding of affordable homes, the tax credit allocation committee will soon address the concerns.
Peter J. Brown was appointed the Federal Reconstruction Coordinator for Puerto Rico. Mr. Brown’s role includes being a direct liaison between Puerto Rico and the White House on reconstruction efforts.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity submitted its state action plan for the $633 million first-of-its-kind federal funding for disaster mitigation. Governor Ron DeSantis (R) expressed his desire for HUD to quickly review the plan so that funds can be deployed.
2016, 2017, and Older Disasters
West Virginia Flooding: House Bill 4130 passed in both the House of Delegates and Senate. The bill aims to increase the number of competitive bids on housing reconstruction contracts. Delegate Dean Jeffries (R) says this change could bring construction cost down and encourage more local contractors to get involved.
Hurricane Irma: The Urban Land Institute issued a report last week suggesting a total remodeling of the greater Virgin Islands, as it is a “well-funded opportunity for change.”
Hurricane Katrina: Auditors criticized the Louisiana Office of Community Development for not yet having clawed back $963 billion from homeowners who were incorrectly given money during recovery from Hurricane Katrina.