Disaster Housing Recovery Updates - December 16, 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 12/9).

Federal Action

Marion McFadden of DHRC partner Enterprise Community Partners testified at a hearing, “Creating a Climate Resilient America: Smart Finance for Strong Communities,” held by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

A bill released by House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced the “Disaster Assistance Equity Act,” which would allow FEMA funds to go toward the repair of common areas in co-ops, condos, and HOA’s.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) released a “Blue New Deal” which focuses on ensuring the health of our oceans. It also proposes to increase funding to help communities adapt to and mitigate against climate change, and it includes reforms to disaster recovery programming and the National Flood Insurance Program.

National News

A new look at the state of the economy is showing that large-scale natural disasters are having a substantial effect on the level of post-recession distress in parts of the country.

Southeast Flooding


President Trump issued a major disaster declaration for Mississippi after severe storms hit the state in late October. The declaration allows for Federal Public Assistance funding to be offered to local governments in 16 counties.

Hurricane Harvey


FEMA has provided $8.9 million through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to elevate 70 flood-prone homes in Brazoria County. Homes will be elevated at least two feet above the base flood elevation.

The Texas General Land Office will host public hearings in order to decide how to distribute $4 billion in mitigation funds. The GLO intends to prioritize large-scale projects to improve the resiliency of homes, businesses, and infrastructure during future storms.

GLO Commissioner George P. Bush announced on December 6 that HUD has allocated $239 million to Texas for long-term recovery, $26.5 million for the 2018 South Texas Floods and $212.7 for 2019 disasters.

California Wildfires 

PG&E has reached a $13.5 billion settlement with victims of the 2018 Camp Fire and 2017 Tubbs fire. This financial compensation has the possibility of aiding low-income families heavily affected by the fires.

At the Silicon Valley Disaster Response Forum, attendees strategized on how to respond to the most recent California disasters with big solutions.

As insurers attempt to drop policies that are becoming increasingly unprofitable due to climate change, California is stepping in to ban the move.

California’s state auditor slammed state and county emergency management officials on December 5 for their failure to ensure that vulnerable populations in the path of the Camp Fire were able to access important emergency information and transportation.

Hurricane Michael


Florida will receive an additional $287 million and $38.6 million from HUD toward Hurricane Michael and Irma relief, respectively.   

Governor Ron DeSantis (R) announced on December 5 that FEMA has approved $15 million in low-interest Community Disaster Loans in several cities in northwest Florida cities affected by Hurricane Michael. These funds will help provide local governments cover their staff payroll and benefits, and make insurance and vendor payments.

Commissioners in Panama City approved $565,000 to be used to construct affordable homes for low-income residents still recovering from Hurricane Michael. Based on their calculation of the cost of construction and quality of materials used, the homes should be affordable to the local working class.

Hurricane Florence

North Carolina

The Natural Resources Defense Council criticized the North Carolina state mitigation plan as “missing the bigger picture” by not fully building out the state’s mitigation plan for an uncertain climate future.

Approximately 720,000 people received temporary disaster food benefits over the three months following Hurricane Florence. Many remain on the program, which was not built to operate for this long, due to the slow pace of recovery.

Hurricane Maria

A proposal by Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez to lower the minimum wage of workers employed under the COR3 recovery program brought workers into the streets in protest. Local unions accused the governor of betraying those doing the actual work of rebuilding.

On December 5, FEMA Acting Administrator Pete Gaynor met with Puerto Rican mayors to discuss recovery strategies. Part of the conversation was focused on spending more time on projects in parks and community centers.