Disaster Housing Recovery Updates – April 18, 2022

National News

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calls for urgent action to respond to global climate change. The report states that in less than a decade, human-created CO2 levels will cause temperatures to rise above levels agreed upon in the Paris Climate Accords unless more is done now to prevent temperature increases.

Congressional Action

The “SPEED Recovery Act” was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on April 4. The bill would raise the threshold for “Small Projects” under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, which reimburses local and state governments for work performed during and after disasters. Projects that cost up to $1 million would receive expedited application reviews and reporting options. The bill was introduced by U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter Defazio, Ranking Member Sam Graves, Representative Daniel Webster (R-FL), and Representative Dina Titus (D-NV).

The “Resilient AMERICA Act” was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on April 4. The bill addresses FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, which permits additional mitigation measures to be undertaken with program funding, allows nonprofit facilities access to BRIC funds, and increases available funding under program grants. The bill was introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter Defazio, Ranking Member Sam Graves, Representative Daniel Webster (R-FL), and Representative Dina Titus (D-NV).

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management held a hearing, “FEMA Priorities for 2022 and the 2022-2026 Strategic Plan,” with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell as sole witness. Comments and questions focused on FEMA personnel issues, recent reforms to the Individual Assistance Program, FEMA’s workforce, and more. 


FEMA released a Federal Register Notice (FRN) calling for comments on the agency’s decision to extend current approval of a wide variety of FEMA Individual Assistance documentation forms. These forms had previously been approved and utilized. FEMA requested comments that evaluate the quality, utility, and clarity of the information gathered and address the burden of data collection on disaster survivors. Comments are due on or before June 13.

FEMA also released an FRN regarding the administration of a preparedness research survey of disaster survivors from historically marginalized communities. According to the notice, the agency plans to make use of surveys, individual interviews, and focus groups. Comments are being collected to enhance the quality and utility of the process. Comments are due on or before June 13.


HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge visited Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands at the beginning of April. In Puerto Rico, she traveled to several areas hit by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and by the 2020 earthquakes. She conducted listening sessions with disaster survivors and emphasized HUD’s commitment to providing equitable, safe, stable, resilient, and affordable housing to disaster survivors via the agency’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program.

State and Local Updates


At least 50 homes in Haines, Alaska, have yet to be rebuilt after a deadly 2020 storm and accompanying landslides. Two-hundred and fifty homes were affected at the time, and while significant progress has been made, challenges remain. Mental health resources have also been difficult to access in the state, but local recovery groups have been attempting to connect disaster survivors with specialists.


FEMA held a brief public comment period concerning its plan to place 28 trailers in Metairie, LA, for Hurricane Ida survivors. The agency plans to keep the units available in Metairie until March 2023. Some residents of Metairie have voiced unfounded claims about increases in crime and flooding due to FEMA’s decision.

North Carolina

The North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency was accused by the state auditor of failing to plan for the oversight of state funds provided for recovery from Hurricane Florence. The office is now working on reforms that would solve the issue, according to state officials.


The number of homes destroyed by the Holiday Farm Fire in September 2020 increased to 574 dwellings. Currently, 47 homes have been rehabbed. Lane County, which was the county hardest hit by the fire, is using modular housing units to ensure adequate housing is available.


The Journal of Affordable Housing and Community Development published an article about heir-property owners and disaster recovery in a recent issue.

The International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction published an article about assessing inequalities in FEMA disaster recovery assistance allocations.