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 1/13).
Puerto Rico Earthquakes
Adi Martinez of DHRC partner Oxfam America appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition to talk about the effect of the ongoing seismic activity in Puerto Rico.
Large aftershocks continue to be expected as many Puerto Ricans sleep outside to avoid injury from potential structural collapses.
The deadline for FEMA applications for South Dakotan victims of September flooding and tornadoes has been extended to January 31.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) as well as Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) are all pushing for federal funding to help the Dallas area recovery from tornados that struck the city last October.
The Harris County Community Services Department is under fire after giving a disgraced former housing director the job of coordinating the city’s disaster recovery program. While Guy Rankin was director, the Harris County Housing Authority came under allegations that they misspent millions in federal housing dollars.
FEMA is requesting that the bankrupt power provider PG&E give the agency nearly $4 billion in reimbursements for the federal cost of responding to the wildfires sparked by the company over the last several years. The $4 billion would have to come from a $13.5 billion reserve intended to compensate fire victims as part of PG&E’s bankruptcy settlement. If PG&E refuses to provide the $4 billion, FEMA will seek reimbursement from individuals who receive PG&E settlement money that duplicates funds already provided to them by FEMA.
With FEMA’s Temporary Shelter Assistance Program ending in four months for survivors of the Camp Fire in northern California, the agency has said that it is hoping to sell the manufactured housing currently occupied by survivors to the survivors themselves. Many vulnerable survivors occupying these units will likely not be able to find alternative housing when the program ends.
Gladys Cook of DHRC partner the Florida Housing Coalition wrote in FHC’s journal Housing News Network that new disaster recovery and mitigation opportunities in Florida will make 2020 “a watershed year” for the state.
2016, 2017, and Older Disasters
Superstorm Sandy: More than seven years since Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, contractor fraud continues to stymy recovery. A new bill in the New Jersey legislature would make it easier for victims to recoup grant money lost due to fraud.