Additional Updates on Disaster Housing Recovery - February 12

The following is a review of additional housing recovery developments related to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the California wildfires since last week’s Memo to Members and Partners (for the article in last week’s Memo, see 2/5). NLIHC also posts this information at our On the Home Front blog.

Hurricane Maria

Local Perspectives

Even before Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico faced severe housing challenges. About half of the island’s 3.4 million residents lived in informal homes, constructed without permits or without following building codes. Simply reimbursing for lost property would only allow for the rebuilding of substandard housing, but to “build back better” would require a massive investment, especially because the majority of destroyed homes lacked hazard or flood insurance. Governor Rosselló is asking for $46 billion from HUD - an amount far greater than any previous allocations - because the government’s billions of dollars of debt limit its ability to fund the required recovery.

Hurricane Irma


FEMA has approved more than $138 million in additional grants for restoration of electric power and removal of debris in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  One hundred million dollars of the Public Assistance (PA) funding is for power restoration, and the remaining $38 million is for debris removal.

Local Perspectives

Legal Services of Greater Miami has helped residents in the Florida Keys appeal FEMA’s denial of their requests for assistance and insurance claims. The legal assistance has helped individuals obtain rental assistance and money for lost personal property, despite initial denials from FEMA. The nonprofit’s services are free to those qualifying under income limits.

Hurricane Harvey

Local Perspective

The Houston City Council voted on January 31 to suspend restrictions against people living in trailers, RVs, and shipping containers on their property. Thousands of Houston residents are still displaced following Hurricane Harvey, and the suspension of restrictions will open up housing options for the survivors.