Additional Disaster Housing Recovery Updates – February 22, 2021

The NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition is convening and supporting disaster-impacted communities to ensure that federal disaster recovery efforts reach all impacted households, including the lowest-income and most marginalized people who are often the hardest-hit by disasters and have the fewest resources to recover.      

Learn more about the DHRC’s policy recommendations here.  

The DHRC submitted a comment on a proposed rule announced by FEMA that would severely restrict disaster-impacted states from receiving federal assistance in the future. To learn more, read NLIHC’s fact sheet on the rule and NLIHC’s 2/16 Memo.

Winter Storm

President Biden approved an emergency declaration for Texas, making federal emergency aid available to supplement recovery efforts in areas affected by a severe winter storm beginning on February 11. Emergency protective measures for mass care and sheltering and direct federal assistance will be provided at 75% federal funding.

FEMA has sent generators and other relief supplies to Texas as the state continues to face power outages and dangerous travel conditions. The Texas Division of Emergency Management has opened over 200 warming stations across Texas. To find the closest warming shelters, visit Read more about FEMA’s response to the severe winter storms. 

The Washington Post reports on how the dangerously cold weather and accompanying power outages in Texas are especially dire for the state’s most marginalized communities – those whose lives have already been threatened by disaster and disease in recent years.

The New York Times reports that while the rolling blackouts in Texas have left four million residents without power in the brutally cold weather, experts and community groups say many marginalized communities were the first to be hit with power outages. If history serves as a guide, they could be among the last to be reconnected.

The New York Times reports that long-term care facilities in Texas are struggling to get by amid the loss of power and water across the state. Long-term care facilities have reported broken water mains, lack of running water, oxygen shortages, and other problems. In Williamson County, local officials are working to ensure more than 60 long-term care facilities have blankets, diesel to run generators, and enough water for drinking and cleaning.

The City of Houston has opened six additional warming facilities in response to the severe winter weather, each capable of housing 50-60 individuals. Widespread power outages on February 15 due to winter storms left at least one homeless shelter in Dallas without electricity for hours. The outages also led to 130 people who were temporarily residing in a hotel to be moved to the downtown convention center.

Hundreds of unsheltered individuals in Texas are being directed to seek life-saving refuge in shelters. Many organizations and volunteers are coming together to provide support for individuals experiencing homelessness, but advocates and providers say capacity is becoming an issue and that the government must provide more resources. One San Antonio organization is sheltering people who are homeless, seniors, and people with disabilities.

Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma on February 17 requested a federal disaster declaration for all counties after declaring a state of emergency in the state. President Biden approved an emergency declaration for Oklahoma, making federal disaster aid available to all 77 counties. Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas and Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana also issued states of emergency.

Tulsa residents have raised $1.5 million since February 12 to house hundreds of individuals experiencing homelessness in hotels and motels during the frigid winter weather. Outreach organizations are sending case managers and housing assistance coordinators to hotels and motels later this week to try to find long-term housing placements for the individuals residing there.

Hurricanes Laura & Delta

Southerly details how a lack of sufficient and timely federal aid, evictions, and rising rents are pushing southwest Louisiana residents into homelessness after the back-to-back hurricanes. Governor John Bel Edwards appealed to President Biden, asking for more federal funds in the form of block grants and for FEMA to increase the federal cost share for hurricane recovery efforts. This is the third story in a three-part series supported by the Pulitzer Center about how southwest Louisiana is recovering from Hurricanes Laura and Delta amid the pandemic. Read the first and second stories.

Wildfires in the West

A survivor who lost his home in the Camp Fire and has been homeless ever since is being forced to relocate because the City of Chico is issuing eviction notices to people living at Comanche Creek. The Chico City Council is expected to meet on March 2 to discuss the greater Chico homeless task force.

President Biden approved a Major Disaster Declaration for Washington to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by wildfires and straight-lines last September.

FEMA is currently seeking interested, qualified property management companies to participate in the Direct Lease Program to help provide temporary housing to wildfire survivors in Lane County.

FEMA announced on February 5 it has begun construction on a site where temporary housing units will be provided to eligible survivor families from Lincoln County. The new Lincoln City site is expected to hold up to 21 temporary housing units.