The following is a review of 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 4/30). NLIHC also posts this information at our On the Home Front blog.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the FAA Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4) on April 27 by a vote of 393-13. This bill includes the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, which contains several important disaster-related provisions. The legislation authorizes states to administer housing assistance using federal funding, allows greater flexibility for housing following a disaster, allows the president to waive duplication-of-benefit restrictions, emphasizes mitigation, and increases the assistance available to people with disabilities.
The U.S. Economic Development Administration has published the FY2018 Disaster Supplemental Notice of Funding Opportunity, announcing $587 million in grants for communities impacted by the 2017 disasters. Nonprofits and local governments are invited to submit grant applications that feature development strategies fostering economic growth and resilience. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.
Through FEMA’s Public Assistance program, Puerto Rican agencies and municipalities have received over $2 billion, including a recent grant of $3.1 million to the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration for “congregate” sheltering.
In collaboration with NPR, PBS Frontline featured on May 1 an investigation into Puerto Rico’s current economic and humanitarian crises. In addition to this exposé, Frontline and NPR had additional stories on the disaster response following Hurricane Maria compared to other hurricanes and the economic situation on the island prior to the hurricanes.
In an interview with Marketplace, Governor Ricardo Rosselló spoke about the assistance complications related to “informal housing” and about his hopes of “eradicating that informal housing component, start pushing folks into safe, formal [home] ownership.”
Florida Housing has created a report, “Impacts to Housing in Florida from the 2017 Hurricanes,” which compiles hurricane data from a number of sources.
Texas Housers, Texas Appleseed, and Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid held a press conference on April 27 to share their concerns about the most recent State Action Plan from the Texas General Land Office. The organizations assert that the plan does not promote an equitable or inclusive recovery. The press conference can be found here.
The Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation and Enterprise Community Partners are joining together to create the “Housing and Economic Assistance to Rebuild Texas” program, which provides grants of up to $50,000 and technical assistance to local nonprofits. The grants are meant to help organizations provide home repairs and other housing assistance to low income households impacted by Hurricane Harvey.