Additional Updates on Disaster Housing Recovery

The following is a review of additional developments related to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria housing recovery since last week’s Memo to Members and Partners (for the article in last week’s Memo, see 10/16). NLIHC also posts this information at our On the Home Front blog. 


HUD

Voucher Portability

HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing sent an email to public housing agencies (PHAs) providing interim guidance for supporting Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) residents from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who wish to move with their voucher (port) to another PHA on the U.S. mainland. Under the HCV program, a voucher household may move to any jurisdiction that has a PHA that administers an HCV program and receive voucher assistance under the portability procedures of the program. According to the email, as of October 6, all PHAs in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are considered “non-operational.” The current list of non-operational PHAs is at: http://bit.ly/2l2eza7.

Until HUD develops more detailed guidance, PHAs are instructed to follow an alternative portability process described in the email when contacted by a household from Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands who wishes to exercise portability but whose “initial” PHA is non-operational due to the disaster and therefore unable to carry out its administrative responsibilities. The “receiving” PHA may choose either to absorb the household into its own HCV program or to bill HUD. Given the operational challenges billing presents in the case of non-operational PHAs, HUD encourages the receiving PHA to absorb the household. If the receiving PHA chooses to bill, HUD will pay the receiving PHA directly.

HUD notes that it is likely that a displaced household’s income may have been negatively impacted by the disaster and subsequent move. Therefore, the receiving PHA may need to conduct a new income reexamination for the household but must not delay issuance of the voucher or approval of the unit. HUD stresses that communication disruptions or portability billing concerns should not get in the way of assisting displaced HCV households from Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands. HUD will ensure that PHAs are paid for legitimate portability moves from the impacted areas.

Housing Counseling

HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling (OHC) has a pre-recorded webinar on Originating FHA-Insured Forward Mortgages in Major Disaster Areas. The webinar covers eligibility and underwriting requirements for originating FHA-insured forward mortgages and using FHA’s 203(h) Mortgage Insurance for Disaster Victims Program and 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Program.


California Wildfires

By the Numbers: (as of 10/19)

  • 9 wildfires
  • 245,000 acres burned
  • 6,900 structures destroyed
  • 42 deaths
  • 15,000+ people remain evacuated

FEMA

On October 10, President Trump issued a Major Disaster Declaration related to the fires. FEMA has designated nine counties where state, local, and tribal governments and certain nonprofit organizations are eligible for federal cost-share funding for debris removal and emergency protective measures (Public Assistance Categories A and B). In addition, individuals and households in eight of these counties are eligible for disaster aid.

USDA

  • SNAP Recipients Receive Relief. The U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service announced that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households impacted by the recent wildfires in Northern California will receive support to replace food lost in the disaster and to purchase hot foods at SNAP-authorized retailers through November 15. 
    • SNAP participants in 13 counties can purchase hot foods with SNAP benefits.
    • SNAP households in specific ZIP codes in six counties will automatically receive replacement of 60% of their October SNAP benefit. These replacement benefits are intended to cover food purchased earlier in the month and then lost in the disaster. Where automatic benefit replacement is not available, a household may contact the local SNAP office and file a written claim for food lost in the disaster. 
    • USDA extended the 10-day timeframe for submitting claims to November 8 for eight counties. 

Hurricane Maria

FEMA

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 10/19)

  • 695,857 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $791,119,960 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $536,017,273 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $255,102,687 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $336,240,256 Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated** all of which are for Emergency Work (Categories A-B)

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA's final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 10/16)

  • 375,264 referrals
  • 246,387 pending applications
  • 31 withdrawn
  • 13,296 ineligible

Individuals who lost their livelihoods because of Hurricanes Irma or Maria may be eligible for FEMA-funded Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). The benefit applies to those who were employees or self-employed. Claims must be filed before November 13.

FEMA awarded Puerto Rico Electric and Power Authority (PREPA) $128 million for emergency work relating to restoring electricity. This is in addition to the more than $213 million previously awarded.

FEMA awarded the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) $70 million for emergency work. PRASA is the primary water and sewer provider for the government of Puerto Rico. Since most of the island is still without power, generators at these facilities must be utilized around the clock in order to avoid a potential public health crisis.

U.S. Virgin Islands

By the Numbers: (as of 10/19)

  • 2,515 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,543,446 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $291,175 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $1,243,271 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $13,010,427 Emergency Work (Categories A-B) dollars obligated**

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA’s final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 10/16)

  • 8,788 referrals
  • 6,393 pending applications
  • 2 withdrawn
  • 513 ineligible

Residents have until November 3 to apply for free temporary roofing repairs to their homes through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Operation Blue Roof.


Hurricane Irma

FEMA

Florida

By the Numbers: (as of 10/19)

  • 695,857 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $791,119,960 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $536,017,273 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $255,102,687 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 10/16)

  • 1,799,790 referrals
  • 697,467 pending applications
  • 23,922 withdrawn
  • 431,760 ineligible

FEMA provides reminders of upcoming application deadlines, including November 9 for people to apply of Individual Assistance (IA). Other important application deadlines include: October 31 for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, December 9 for immediate foreclosure relief, October 31 for Requests for Public Assistance (RPA), and November 9 for SBA low-interest loans.

People registered with FEMA and receiving rental assistance through the Individual and Households Program (IHP) may be eligible to apply for continued rental assistance. Rental assistance extensions run for three-month periods not to exceed 18 months from the date of the disaster declaration, as long as the household remains eligible.

Georgia

By the Numbers: (as of 10/19)

  • 8,272 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $10,524,857 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $7,533,813 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $2,991,044 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 10/16)

  • 26,420 referrals
  • 12,766 pending applications
  • 437 withdrawn
  • 5,727 ineligible

Twenty-nine additional counties are now eligible for Public Assistance (Categories C-G), which provides funding for permanent work. These counties were already eligible for debris removal and emergency protective measures (PA Categories A and B).

People in seven counties have until November 14 to register with FEMA for Individual Assistance (IA). November 14 is also the deadline for renters, homeowners, nonprofits, and businesses to apply to SBA for low-interest loans.

FEMA has extended the deadline for Georgia state and local governments and certain nonprofits to submit Requests for Public Assistance. The new deadline is November 14. The Public Assistance Grant Program provides federal reimbursement of debris removal, emergency protective measures, and repair or replacement of public infrastructure.

Puerto Rico

By the Numbers: (as of 10/19)

  • 586 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,193,719 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $641,195 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $552,524 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 10/16)

  • 2,262 referrals
  • 1,263 pending applications
  • 35 withdrawn
  • 446 ineligible

U.S. Virgin Islands

By the Numbers: (as of 10/19)

  • 2,831 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $2,648,020 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $1,141,432 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $1,506,587 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $25,056,945 Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated**, all of which are for Emergency Work Categories A-B

*Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

**Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA's final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 10/16)

  • 8,351 referrals
  • 5,308 pending applications
  • 22 withdrawn
  • 762 ineligible

Local Perspective

Governor Kenneth Mapp of the U.S. Virgin Islands created an expert advisory committee, the VI Hurricane and Resiliency Advisory Group, to help reconstruction and resiliency efforts following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The group will examine long-term effects of climate change and establish a plan for economic recovery. Clifford Graham, president and CEO of the West Indian Company port facilities and former executive director of the VI Housing Finance Agency, will serve as chair of the group.

South Carolina

President Trump approved a Major Disaster Declaration (DR-4346) for 16 counties in South Carolina. This declaration makes federal funding on a 75% cost-sharing basis available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities. Warren J. Riley has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations for the affected area. FEMA has created a webpage with information related to this disaster.


Hurricane Harvey

FEMA

Texas

By the Numbers: (as of 10/19)

  • 333,595 Individual Assistance (IA) applications approved*
  • $1,232,251,049 Individual & Household Program (IHP) approved*
  • $959,251,893 Housing Assistance (HA) approved*
  • $272,999,157 Other Needs Assistance (ONA) approved*
  • $400,362,511 Public Assistance Grants (PA) obligated** all of which are for Emergency Work (Categories A-B)

* Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

** Funds made available to the state via electronic transfer following FEMA's final review and approval of Public Assistance projects.

Individual Assistance Numbers: (as of 10/16)

  • 718,566 referrals
  • 140,080 pending applications
  • 37,192 withdrawn
  • 231,319 ineligible

Individuals and households in Grimes and Caldwell counties can now register for disaster assistance from FEMA. This brings the total number of Texas counties designated for Individual Assistance (IA) to 41. Residents of the 41 designated counties now have until Friday, November 24 to register for disaster assistance. 

Local Perspective

The mayors of four small Texas Gulf Coast cities devastated by Hurricane Harvey - Port Aransas, Victoria, Rockport, and Port Lavaca - discussed the storm’s effects with The Texas Tribune.

Louisiana

President Trump approved a Major Disaster Declaration (DR-4345) for areas affected by Tropical Storm Harvey. In nine counties, federal funding on a 75% cost-sharing basis is available to eligible local governments and nonprofit organizations as well as the state government for all categories of Public Assistance (PA) such as emergency work and repair or replacement of facilities. Another 11 counties are eligible for 75% federal cost-sharing for emergency work (Category B). Federal cost-sharing funding for hazard mitigation is available statewide. William J. Doran III is the Federal Coordinating Officer for the affected area. FEMA has created a webpage related to the disaster.


Information from Other Organizations:

National Church Residences and LeadingAge have created a hotline to answer disaster-related questions and make referrals for people over the age of 55. The toll free number is 844-259-4747, and a web form is available at www.seniorhotline.org. In addition, the two organizations ask those with available housing to notify them at senior help@nationalchurchresidences.org, indicating the name of the community or housing, address, rent amount, and willingness to provide short-term housing.

The Center for American Progress released a report describing the extent to which children in Puerto Rico depend on government support for food assistance and security, housing, health and medical care, and early education. More than half of children in Puerto Rico live below the federal poverty line and 31% live in households that are rent-burdened, paying more than 30% of income for rent and utilities.