Additional Updates on Disaster Housing Recovery – May 29

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 5/21). NLIHC also posts this information at our On the Home Front blog.


HUD has announced on-site employment opportunities in San Juan, Puerto Rico and one position focusing on the U.S. Virgin Islands. Two specialist positions are in the Office of Community Planning and Development/Disaster Recovery, and two financial analyst positions are in the Special Issues Division in the Office of Block Grant Assistance.


FEMA reports Housing Eligibility Determinations for all disaster areas affected by the 2017 hurricanes here.

FEMA has significantly increased funding to respond to the California Wildfires/California Disaster Declaration (DR-4344) from $189 million to $333 million. This increase allows the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to re-open applications for grants that allow sub-applicants - which includes state agencies, local governments, special districts, and certain private non-profits - to receive funds to institute mitigation efforts.

FEMA denied the request of Puerto Rico’s representative in Congress to extend the restoration power crews that have been repairing the island’s power grid. About 16,000 homes in Puerto Rico still lack power approximately eight months since Hurricane Maria first made landfall. FEMA did approve a request from the governor of Puerto Rico to maintain hundreds of emergency generators.

Local Perspectives

Over six months after Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston, TX, and the surrounding area, January Advisors has reviewed eviction data from before and after the hurricane. In September 2017, the month Harvey hit, evictions were down 23% from September 2016. This may be in response to the Mayor of Houston’s pleas to private landlords to be flexible with tenants by suspending late fees for September. Shortly after, eviction rates spiked, and October 2017 saw 7% more evictions than October 2016. While eviction rates are on the rise, judgements in favor of the tenants in eviction cases since Harvey have also risen from 2.46% to 6.19%.

An article in the Chicago Reporter details how FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program is not doing enough to help displaced Puerto Ricans after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Roberto Maldonado, alderman of Chicago’s 26th Ward, home to the largest Puerto Rican neighborhood in the city, expressed concern for the lack of outreach to get additional hotels to join the TSA program. “They make things so complicated,” he said. “It’s not user-friendly at all.”