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 7/1).
Forty-seven members of Congress signed a letter authored by Representative Darren Soto (D-FL) calling for HUD to release $2 billion in disaster recovery funding to rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid. The funds are part of a disaster aid package passed in early 2018.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a new phase of grants to Puerto Rico. The $600 million block grant from the Food and Nutrition Service will go toward food assistance programs on the island. The money was made available in the disaster aid package passed by Congress last month.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on June 28 regarding the high level of debt in U.S. territories. While GAO said that federal disaster aid would stimulate their economies, it was unclear whether such economic benefits would be sustainable.
GAO released another report on June 28 that found six agencies receiving the most funds for aid after the 2017 disasters failed to provide appropriate internal control plans for the money.
Two Emergency Disaster Management scholars penned an op-ed calling on politicians to move beyond partisanship and create a public policy “safe zone” for disaster preparedness and recovery discussions to take place.
President Trump declared a major disaster in 20 Missouri counties. FEMA subsequently activated its Individual Assistance (IA) program to provide flood victims with grants to procure temporary shelter and repair homes.
FEMA announced that it has approved almost $650,000 for 274 applicants for assistance after activating the IA program in June. The agency stated that they received 1,195 inquiries about disaster assistance from South Dakota residents.
As individuals in tornado ravaged areas of Ohio continue to wait for FEMA to accept or deny their assistance applications, local officials are looking for transitional housing to bring people back to the area.
DHRC members Catholic Charities and Seventh Day Adventist Community Services Disaster Response are continuing their efforts to provide aid and case management services to individuals affected by tornadoes in Missouri.
On June 27, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the 2019-2020 state budget into law. The budget includes assistance for areas recovering from the Camp Fire in 2018, as well as assistance for wildfire mitigation efforts in fire-prone areas.
The 2018-2019 Butte County Grand Jury released their findings and recommendations following the 2018 Camp Fire. The report, created by 19 Butte County residents, found that the notification system employed by the county to warn residents to evacuate was significantly inadequate and failed to take into account the needs of older residents and residents with disabilities.
Sonoma County released its point-in-time survey of individuals experiencing homelessness last week. The report found that although the number of homeless individuals has decreased from higher levels directly after the Tubbs Fire, the number of homeless youth and individuals living in cars increased. This is attributable to the loss of affordable housing in the area due to the fire.
Paradise is waiting on Governor Gavin Newsom to recertify the town as a smaller community to make the area eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture grants through its Rural Development Disaster Assistance program. The new grant program comes from a $150 million set-aside to assist communities with less than 20,000 people recover from disasters.
Issues with insurance claims and the uneasiness of living in a formerly bustling town are making some residents of Paradise with intact homes almost wish their homes had not survived the fire.
DHRC member Enterprise Community Partners is working on a platform to provide information sharing, tools, and technical assistance to better facilitate inclusive community-driven decision-making in resilience planning and disaster recovery. The initiative, based in Northern California, launched last month with a day-long summit of community leaders, community organizations, and disaster recovery experts.
Residents of rural Florida are still working through the aid and recovery process. The Marjorie group has highlighted some of their stories as part of a series on Hurricane Michael’s aftermath.
Hundreds of nursing homes were forced to evacuate during Hurricane Michael. As a new storm season begins, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and assisted living facilities in flood plains are urged to prepare with temporary shelter and evacuation plans.
Bay County’s Long-Range Recovery Task Force ratified its 295-page Long-Range Recovery Plan in Panama City this week. The plan now goes to the Bay County Commission for formal adoption.
With the latest federal disaster relief package signed into law last month, Southeast Georgia is anxiously awaiting how much recovery assistance they will receive and when it will arrive.
In the absence of government aid, Puerto Ricans are banding together to help their communities repair and recover. But as a new hurricane season looms, Puerto Ricans believe that greater mitigation efforts are needed.
Even after being forced to resubmit applications, assistance is frustratingly slow to arrive for Hurricane Harvey victims in Houston. The Houston Department of Housing and Community Development hopes federal assistance money will speed up the process.
Two years after Hurricane Harvey, some survivors, including a 75 year old woman, are still living in trailers across from their damaged homes.
In the wake of new guidance from HUD on whether receiving SBA loans and CDBG-DR funds can be considered a duplication of benefits, some Louisiana homeowners are already receiving checks.
Hurricane Sandy (2012)
Recovery from Hurricane Sandy is still ongoing with large numbers of families still waiting to rebuild their homes. One researcher points to dramatic drop-offs in donations, sporadic federal assistance, and turnover in aid organizations as reasons why disaster recovery takes so long.
Lower-income communities in NYC’s outer boroughs are facing threats from future flooding and storms. As NYC spends large amounts of money to buttress Manhattan against storm surge, mitigation in poorer communities could threaten some families’ housing stability.
Seaside Heights, NJ opened an apartment building containing 91 age- and income-restricted units. This was the first building to be funded using CDBG-DR dollars on a New Jersey barrier island.