Disaster Housing Recovery Updates – August 12, 2019

The following is a review of additional disaster housing recovery developments since the last edition of Memo to Members and Partners (for the article in the previous Memo, see 8/5).

Federal Action

Representative Neal Dunn (R-FL) introduced the “Residential Recovery Zone Act.” The bill would provide incentives for homeownership in areas struck by natural disasters. Incentives include tax breaks and special loan financing for home purchases in designated “residential recovery zones” less than 3 years after a major disaster. The legislation also includes language establishing opportunity zones in certain disaster-affected areas. 

The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Services released a study looking at the threats climate change and sea-level rise pose to American coastal cities. The report focuses on who will bear the financial cost of flooding as coastal development continues to increase. 

Midwestern Tornadoes


Survivors of the June tornadoes in Ohio have just two weeks to apply for FEMA assistance. Survivors in Montgomery, Greene, Mercer, Miami, Perry, Muskingum, Pickaway, Mahoning, Auglaize, Hocking and Darke Counties are urged to apply.  

The Montgomery County Auditor’s Office released an interactive map of the 4,434 properties in the county that were damaged by the tornadoes in an attempt to improve the efficiency of recovery projects, making it easier to pair particular organizations with the needs of residents.  

California Wildfires 

Survivors of the Camp Fire are receiving contradicting answers about whether their water is safe to consume. While some residents in the area have been told the water is safe to drink, residents in adjacent areas using the same water system are being told the water contains cancer-causing materials. 

Residents of Northern California continue to wait for the $200 million Congress approved in February of 2018. 

Survivors of the 2017 Tubbs Fire have been experiencing long-term trauma from the disaster. Mental health professionals are preparing for an additional demand for services as the second anniversary of the fire draws closer and recurring insurance payments stop. 

Hurricane Michael


HUD officials announced that the required Federal Register Notice needed to release over $633 million in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds will be published in the coming weeks. Once that notice is released, Florida will submit an action plan for the money for HUD review. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis thanked HUD for announcing the effort to bring CDBG-DR funds to the state would be moving forward in the next several weeks.

The Bay County Commissioners approved the Bay County’s Long-Term Recovery Task Force’s plan this week. The plan calls for the county to apply for $6.9 billion in aid from the federal and state governments, but decisions about which projects to prioritize have yet to be made.

In Gulf County, disaster recovery non-profits are just getting started as they strategize ways to create housing opportunities in the area.

Hurricane Florence

North Carolina

HUD officials announced that the required Federal Register Notice needed to release over $168 million in CDBG-DR funds to North Carolina will be published in the coming weeks. The move comes as HUD announced it would separate state-side CDBG-DR funds from those going to Puerto Rico, which HUD may try to delay.

2017 Disasters

Hurricane Irma: US Virgin Islands Delegate Stacey Plaskett urged authorities in the USVI to continue working with federal authorities to create robust protections for disaster recovery funding when it is received. 

Hurricane Irma: In the Florida Keys, the scarcity of affordable housing after Hurricane Irma has forced residents who remained to live in smaller units.

Hurricane Harvey: Texas Governor Greg Abbott thanked HUD for its “ongoing efforts to ensure Texas receives the money it needs to recover from one of the worst natural disasters in our state’s history.” Texas is included in the list of states slated to receive CDBG-DR funds. HUD announced a Federal Register Notice will be published in several weeks regarding those funds.

Hurricane Harvey: Texas officials are conducting mental health surveys in areas hit by Hurricane Harvey. Like mental health professionals in California, Texas counselors and psychiatrists are preparing for an influx of these seeking assistance as the second anniversary of Hurricane Harvey draws closer.