- The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded Puerto Rico more than $1.5 billion through the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program on February 1. HUD also awarded $243 million to the U.S. Virgin Islands on February 2. These funds come from the first disaster aid supplemental passed with the continuing resolution on September 8, 2017. The act appropriated a total of $7.4 billion in CDBG-DR funding to help areas affected by major disasters in calendar year 2017. Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are all still waiting for HUD to publish a Federal Register notice providing administrative guidance for the use of these funds. CDBG-DR grants can fund housing redevelopment, business assistance, economic revitalization, and infrastructure repair. Once HUD issues the guidance, the governments of Puerto Rico and USVI will need to draft a recovery action plan for public review and comment. The plan must apply the majority of the funds toward the “most impacted and distressed” areas.
- A FEMA update from February 1 states that 10,742 individuals are participating in FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program throughout 40 states and Puerto Rico.
- PA Grants in USVI. 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 of the Public Assistance (PA) funding is for power restoration, and the remaining $38 million is for debris removal.
- Florida State Housing Trust Fund. The Florida Senate’s budget proposal spends all of the available funding in the state housing trust fund for affordable housing and advances legislation protecting the money. For the past decade, the Florida Legislature has swept funds out of the trust fund to use for other priorities. While the House decided to sweep more than half of the funds out of the trust fund, the Senate recognized the substantial need for affordable housing in Florida, especially following last year’s Hurricane season.
- Recovery Numbers. A representative of Florida’s Department of Emergency Management (DEM) reported the following numbers during a Florida Housing Coalition Hurricane Member Update on February 2.
- 319 FEMA travel trailers (and no more expected) in Florida
- 62 Hurricane Irma survivor households are participating in the Direct Lease program in Florida
- 1,940 Hurricane Irma survivor households participating in FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program (vouchers set to expire on February 10)
- 1,420 Hurricane Maria survivor households (with 4,009 members) participating in TSA program in Florida
- 6,771 Hurricane Maria survivor households (with 14,549 members) registered a Florida address with FEMA
- 10,363 children from Puerto Rico and 892 children from the U.S. Virgin Islands enrolled in Florida public schools (as of January 9)
- FEMA Figures. The Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas’ latest update includes the following numbers regarding the recovery effort in Texas. All figures are as of January 31.
- 599,737 FEMA inspections completed
- 1,755 homes have received free repairs through the General Land Office’s PREPS program with another 7,158 in the process
- 1,587 families have been housed through the Direct Housing Program
- 9,505 households are participating in FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program
- Recovery Plan Workshop. The Texas Rural Leadership Program is hosting a workshop on February 10 in Victoria, Texas, to help communities affected by Hurricane Harvey develop long-term recovery plans. The workshop is part of the Texas Rural Leadership Conference, which begins February 9.
- Restrictions Suspended. 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 lift on restrictions will open housing options for survivors.