Disaster Housing Recovery Update – October 28, 2022

In response to years of advocacy by the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC), HUD announced on October 24 the creation of the Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing (RUSH) program to help the lowest-income and most marginalized disaster survivors regain or maintain stable, affordable housing.

RUSH will provide displaced disaster survivors with the longer-term direct rental assistance and supportive services they need to get back on their feet. The program will provide rapid re-housing assistance, including up to 24 months of rental assistance, as well as supportive services for people currently experiencing homelessness and those at risk of homelessness through its network of housing providers and experts. Program funds are also eligible to cover move-in expenses, outreach costs, and other urgent needs for individuals who are unsheltered. RUSH funding will be available for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, including those with incomes at or below 30% of area median income and living in overcrowded homes, facing imminent eviction, or experiencing another risk factor for homelessness.

RUSH is similar to the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), which advocates identify as a best practice for disaster housing recovery. DHAP was created after hard-won lessons from Hurricane Katrina, and it has been used successfully after major disasters. Despite support from both Democratic and Republican administrations, FEMA has refused to activate DHAP in recent years. The Biden-Harris administration previously announced plans to create a similar program in time for the 2022 hurricane season, but progress was halted after FEMA backtracked and refused to activate the program.

For households with low incomes displaced by a disaster, FEMA housing assistance is often inaccessible and inadequate, due to an overly complex application process, arbitrary deadlines, and failure to keep pace with rising post-disaster rents. As a result, these households typically face long-term displacement and the threat of homelessness after a disaster. Individuals who were experiencing homelessness prior to a disaster are ineligible for most forms of FEMA assistance, including the Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) Program and rental assistance.

HUD has set aside $56 million in reallocated Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) to fund RUSH and has made a first set of $6.8 million in RUSH grants to the state of Florida and seven Florida localities impacted by Hurricane Ian. HUD will make a second allocation later this year. While NLIHC commends HUD for its leadership and sense of urgency in identifying appropriate funds to respond – in the absence of FEMA action - to critical housing needs following Hurricane Ian, it is important that longer-term funding for this program be made available through FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Fund (DRF). NLIHC and the DHRC will continue urging FEMA to partner with and fund HUD to administer a robust disaster housing recovery program.

Join next week’s (Tuesday, November 1) National Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition webinar at 2 pm ET for national updates on the federal response to Hurricanes Ian and Fiona and the latest on advocacy efforts to improve America’s disaster recovery system.

Hurricane Ian

FEMA has acknowledged that more than 400 disaster survivors in Florida received improper approvals for Critical Needs Assistance payments. Many of those survivors said they were relying on the funds after receiving their approval notices.

Frustrations are beginning to rise amid the slow rollout of temporary housing in Collier County, where between 1,500 and 2,000 units are needed to house displaced residents. FEMA approved direct temporary housing program assistance this week.

Residents in one apartment complex in Orlando are being evicted in order to make repairs following flooding from Hurricane Ian.

Texas A&M professor and NLIHC Disaster Research Consortium member Shannon Van Zandt explained the importance of rebuilding affordable housing in areas impacted by Hurricane Ian.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis provided a briefing on recovery efforts.

Those hardest hit by Hurricane Ian – including households with low incomes – are having the greatest difficulties recovering afterwards, explains an article published in TIME.

A lack of available housing and soaring rents in the areas impacted by Ian mean that workers contracted to assist in recovery are having difficulty finding places to stay.

Hurricane Ian showed the vulnerability of older mobile homes whose owners were already feeling displacement pressures from investors and rising rents.

After the hasty release of an evacuation order prior to the landfall of Hurricane Ian, many are wondering if the delay cost lives in coastal Lee County.

Debris collection is now underway in Cape Coral.

A Tampa native has created an interactive map to help displaced homeowners check on their homes remotely.

Officials in Volusia County and state emergency managers held a community meeting to discuss emergency repairs in the area following Hurricane Ian.

Hurricane Fiona

Heavy rains this week may lead to dangerous flooding in Puerto Rico and compound the negative effects of Hurricane Fiona.

An additional Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) is now open in Aguadilla. 

Disaster debris is overwhelming Puerto Rico’s landfills and waste management system.

FEMA indicated that it is seeking to avoid past mistakes by rushing storm aid to Puerto Rico.

With more than 60% of Puerto Rico residents seeking assistance from FEMA, DHRC member Ivis Garcia broke down the available assistance, as well as the obstacles in accessing it, in a recent article.

Advocates from Puerto Rico spoke to National Public Radio regarding obstacles to recovery after Hurricane Fiona.

Congressional and Federal Updates

HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge and Representative Val Demings (D-FL) both spoke at a roundtable to discuss the current state of affordable housing in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio released a request for a disaster supplemental spending bill with $33 billion for Hurricane Ian recovery. The plan includes $5 billion in HUD long-term recovery money but is viewed as insufficient given the impact of the hurricane.

Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) celebrated the passage of the FIRE Act this week.

Members of Disaster Researchers for Justice published an op-ed in The Hill calling for the creation of a National Disaster Safety Board.

State and Local


Western Alaska communities will receive more than $1 million in recovery funding to help recovery efforts following a massive storm in September. According to the Alaska Community Foundation, over $500,000 will be disbursed this month to the towns that need the funds most, with the rest of the money being distributed in early November. For households, the aid can help pay for repairs, damages, and temporary housing. Businesses can also apply for funds to help offset the costs of physical damage and economic losses caused by the storm. 


More than a dozen volunteers are helping homeowners build new homes in Paradise, California, nearly four years after the Camp Fire. The Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), USDA Rural Development, and Wells Fargo are backing the project. 

California has passed two laws to protect certain wildfire victims from state taxes being imposed on their legal settlements in wildfire cases. However, the IRS still treats lawsuit settlements as taxable. Congressmen Doug LaMalfa (CA-R) and Mike Thompson (CA-D) introduced a bill to exempt certain fire victims from paying federal income tax on their settlements. 


The Mayfield-Graves County Long-Term Recovery Group (LTRG) claims that of the housing in the Mayfield community destroyed by the December tornado, 70% was rental housing. With many residents “essentially homeless,” the LTRG hopes to reclaim vacant properties and rent those homes to people in need of housing.

Governor Andy Beshear created an advisory council to help guide responses to natural disasters and prepare communities for future disasters with the goal of being ready for whatever disaster comes next. Floyd County has already formed a committee to help flood victims return to normal life.

FEMA extended the deadline to apply for federal disaster assistance to October 28 for Eastern Kentucky homeowners and renters who saw their properties damaged or washed away by the July floods.


Residents of the Lake Charles area are set to receive more than $1 billion in federal long-term recovery funds to help rebuild from Hurricanes Laura and Delta after more than two years. After the two storms hit Lake Charles less than two months apart, the area has struggled to recover, even with immediate help from FEMA and other federal agencies. Housing continues to be one of the area’s biggest needs. The state plans to use funds for economic revitalization, construction of new rental properties, and infrastructure repairs in storm-affected areas. 

North Carolina

The North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) is funding an 80-unit affordable multifamily apartment development in Fayetteville called McArthur Park II. The apartments help meet key housing needs stemming from housing loss from the damage caused by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence, while also allowing residents to stay in their community. In total, the NCORR program has committed more than $81.4 million in funding to projects that will create more than 1,000 affordable rental units for storm-impacted regions of the state.


According to Oregon Housing and Community Services, HUD has approved Oregon’s Action Plan to spend $422 million to assist communities and survivors who continue to recover from the 2020 Labor Day Fires through Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds. Administered by Oregon Housing and Community Services, these funds helped set up efforts called ReOregon, which will provide new permanent housing in areas most impacted by the fires to help individuals, households, and communities recover. Affordable housing options, including rental and homeownership options, will be accepting applications in the coming year. The funding will help provide hundreds of new homes for low- and moderate-income households, with preferences being made for survivors in the counties hardest hit by the fires.