Additional Disaster Housing Recovery Updates – November 4, 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 10/28).

Federal Action & National News

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced legislation to prevent FEMA from removing the amount of disaster recovery loans from National Flood Insurance Program settlements. 

Presidential Candidate Beto O’Rourke recently sat down with City Lab to talk about his $1.5 trillion climate plan and his views towards environmental justice. 

Five Thirty Eight released an article on how to think empirically about disaster news in a the new climate-change era. 

More cities are prioritizing resilience as they rebuild from disasters.

Midwest Tornadoes


Dallas is slowly repairing the damage from tornadoes that struck the city in October; the speed and intensity of the recovery is expected to vary along economic lines

FEMA crews are touring the storm damage in Dallas. It is unclear if FEMA will activate its Individual Assistance Program in response to the disaster. 


In Dayton, OH, where tornados destroyed apartments and homes in May of this year, survivors navigate the FEMA aid application and appeals process. 

Tropical Storm Imelda & Hurricane Harvey


Montgomery County, TX, is contemplating a buyback program for homes in easily floodable areas. Almost 400 homes would be eligible. 

On October 28, Governor Greg Abbott (R) extended the state disaster declaration for counties affected by Hurricane Harvey. This extension could help provide additional services to people in low-income housing who still need to recover. 

California Wildfires 

Strong winds fan large wildfires in California where as many as 7,000 homes have been evacuated in Southern California alone. 

In the Kincaid Fire in Northern California, many migrant workers have lost their homes and wages. 

PG&E power shutoffs – done to lower the risk of wildfire – is harming low-income residents more than others.  

Some worry that parts of California are becoming unlivable as the effects of climate change and the affordable housing crisis collide in what is known as the wildland-urban interface, where the most affordable housing is located but where the wildfires are most severe. 

Hurricane Michael


A $5 million grant was given to groups in the Brightline rail corridor to establish housing that is affordable, hurricane-resilient, and eco-friendly. Five affordable housing advocacy groups will receive this money over the next three years to create new affordable rental homes, upgrade existing affordable homes, and provide loans to households to make energy and hurricane-related improvements. 

Hillsborough County officials are in the process of making changes in response to research about the impact of hurricanes on their buildings. A majority of the population is living in low-income housing built before the building code put in place post-Hurricane Andrew, and residents do not have the resources to protect against future serious storms.

The Community Foundation of North Florida is distributing out almost $600,000 in long-term recovery grants to 15 hurricane-affected counties. 

The environmental effects of Hurricane Michael are expected to linger for years, with as many as 500 million trees downed and almost 1.5 million acres of land suffering catastrophic damage. 

Hurricane Florence & Hurricane Dorian

North Carolina

The North Carolina House Appropriations Committee passed a bill providing $280.5 million in hurricane relief. Among the allocations, the bill provides nearly $38 million in matching funds for federal disaster relief grants, as well as $40 million in loans and grants for resiliency projects. 

2016 and 2017 Disasters

Hurricane Maria: Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) member Enterprise Community Partners released a new guidebook for the construction of resilient homes in Puerto Rico.  

Hurricane Sandy: Seven years after Hurricane Sandy, some survivors have still not been able to return to their former homes. 

Hurricane SandyNew Jersey is sinking, leading to even greater concerns about the impact of future storms. 

Hurricane Irma: DHRC member Habitat for Humanity is still at work in the Florida Keys, which is still rebuilding after Hurricane Irma.  

Hurricane Irma: The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has begun accepting applications for $20 million available to local workforce development boards and trade schools in areas most impacted by Hurricane Irma. 

Hurricane Irma: Mental health practitioners in the U.S. Virgin Islands had an article published alleging that survivors’ mental health suffered more during the recovery from Hurricane Irma than during past recovery efforts. 

2013 Colorado Floods: Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) celebrated the state’s addition of $1.2 million dollars to the area’s existing $12 million federal grant for anti-flooding mitigation projects in the St. Vrain River area.