As with other disasters, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition stands ready to convene and support 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.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
HUD on September 1 announced federal disaster assistance for Louisiana to support homeowners and low-income renters displaced from their homes in five parishes most impacted by Hurricane Laura.
FEMA announced on August 28 that federal disaster assistance has been made available to Louisiana to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Laura. State and federal officials are encouraging Louisiana residents in eligible parishes to apply for disaster assistance.
Governor John Bel Edwards announced on September 1 that FEMA approved his request for Individual Assistance for three additional parishes. This brings the total of approved parishes to nine. The governor’s request for another 14 parishes is still pending federal approval.
FEMA approved Individual Assistance for 10 additional counties in Iowa impacted by the severe storms of August 10.
Bloomberg City Lab calls attention to the profound racial disparities in how disaster recovery funds are allocated. The article discusses the additional dangers natural disasters place on renters struggling with COVID-19-related housing insecurity. Evacuation is dangerous for tenants since renters are more vulnerable to illegal evictions when they leave their properties.
In an op-ed published in The Hill, Dr. Carolyn Kousky, Executive Director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, and Dr. Carlos Martín, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute and DHRC member, call for prioritizing low-income households in federal disaster aid. The authors explain that lower-income families, who are often at greater risk from disaster impacts, too often slip through the cracks of federal relief and recovery assistance due to inequities and systemic gaps in disaster aid policies and practices. The authors emphasize the need for improving our federal disaster relief and recovery programs, including permanently authorizing HUD’s Community Development Block Grants - Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program to ensure sufficient recovery funds are available for vulnerable families.
Salon reports that the days of lingering smoke from the California wildfires are putting people experiencing homelessness at additional risk of the coronavirus.
Updates from the State of Louisiana on Hurricane Laura are available at: https://hurricanelaura.la.gov/
CNBC reports that as Hurricane Laura loomed, people in Louisiana and Texas had to make difficult decisions about staying or leaving. Few options exist for people who cannot afford a hotel room or the gas needed to evacuate.
The Gazette’s editorial board discusses the impact of systemic inequality on the city and state response to the Iowa derecho in August. The slow response disproportionately impacted those without access to the internet, as well as immigrants and people with the lowest incomes. The authors urge leaders to develop a more robust, culturally sensitive disaster response and relief effort that meets the needs of low-income renters, people with limited English proficiency, immigrant communities, and seniors.