Additional Updates on Disaster Housing Recovery - February 19

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 2/12). NLIHC also posts this information at our On the Home Front blog.

Hurricane Maria

Local Perspectives

Citi Community Development is providing $500,000 to four Puerto Rican housing community development and counseling organizations to provide housing assistance to Puerto Rican communities. The initiative will help secure housing solutions and provide a variety of housing resources to renters and homeowners.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy established a commission to help provide relief for the approximately 30,000 Puerto Rican evacuees who have come to the state following Hurricane Maria. The 18-member commission will work with federal agencies to help the recovery efforts for all Puerto Ricans and release a report of its findings within 90 days.

Hurricane Irma


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has completed its efforts to provide temporary power for critical facilities in the U.S. Virgin Islands. FEMA reports that electricity has been restored to 98% of USVI customers.

Local Perspectives

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) will assist Monroe County, FL, with clean-up and removal of marine debris caused by Hurricane Irma. DEP will provide $6 million and oversight of the cleanup, and FDEM will help Monroe County apply for FEMA reimbursements, which will then go back to the state.

FEMA, the State of Florida, and other partners are hosting a webinar, “FEMA Program Basics Training,” on February 20 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm EST. The training will include information on FEMA appeals, assistance provided by the Small Business Administration, steps to request FEMA applicant information, and more.

The Florida Legislature is making progress toward creating two programs designed to provide housing assistance following Hurricane Irma. House Bill 987 and companion Senate Bill 1328 would create a Hurricane Housing Recovery Program and a Rental Recovery Loan Program. Both programs would use funds from Florida’s state housing trust fund to provide emergency housing and repairs.

Hurricane Harvey

Local Perspective

The Texas Comptroller released a special edition of Fiscal Notes examining the financial impact of Hurricane Harvey. The storm destroyed nearly 200,000 homes, caused $670 million in damage to public infrastructure, and contributed to $200 million in crop and livestock losses. The report demonstrates the positive effects of recovery efforts and increased construction activity on the state’s economy and includes mitigation proposals related to reservoirs, city/regional planning, and updated flood plain maps.

The area around Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange, Texas - also known as the Golden Triangle - continues to struggle with recovery, particularly for its low-income residents. A quarter of these residents were displaced, and nearly half requested assistance from FEMA. Community leaders and groups are advocating for the community to ensure that those with the lowest incomes and greatest needs are assisted.

The City of Houston is considering changes to city codes to ensure that newly built homes have a reduced risk of flood losses. Public input can be submitted online through Monday, February 19, or residents can contact local council members before the ordinance is presented on February 28.

Texas Governor Abbott announced on February 13 that an additional $1 billion in FEMA funds would be available for hazard and flood mitigation. Only $500 million are currently available, while the remaining funds will be provided on or before August 25.

ProPublica reports that Harris County, TX, adopted a disaster-preparation plan months prior to Hurricane Harvey but failed to act on it. The “Mass Shelter Plan,” approved in January 2017, assigned responsibility to Harris County for identifying emergency shelter and providing initial care, recognizing it could take up to seven days for its main partner, the Red Cross, to be prepared to take over. Emails suggest many officials were unaware of that an emergency sheltering plan existed.