Take action! To ensure more efficient and equitable disaster recovery, Congress should pass the “Reforming Disaster Recovery Act” (S.2471/H.R. 4707). The bill would permanently authorize the CDBG-DR program and enact critical reforms to help ensure that long-term disaster recovery funds are made quickly available after disasters and that all disaster survivors and their communities can fully and equitably recover. If you live in a state with a Republican senator, please call them today and urge them to cosponsor this important bill. NLIHC and Enterprise Community Partners are also circulating an organizational sign-on letter to congressional leadership in support of the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act. Sign your organization on to the letter here.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
HUD halted the distribution of $1.95 billion in CDBG-Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds to Texas following Hurricane Harvey because the Texas GLO failed to submit paperwork detailing how the funds would be spent to help individuals and communities at risk of natural disasters. Texas officials have 45 days to provide the information. Congressman Al Green (D-TX) released a statement disapproving of the Texas GLO’s mismanagement of the funds and urging the state to produce a meaningful plan outlining how the funds will support impacted communities
FEMA is accepting public comments in response to its request for information on proposed changes to the National Flood Insurance Program. Here are links to a brief comment template and a long-form comment. Comments must be submitted by January 27, 2022.
FEMA is updating the National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) risk rating methodology through the implementation of a new pricing methodology called Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action. You can view data that compares rate changes from the new rating methodology to the legacy rating system in place since the 1970s.
FEMA announced on January 6 its 2022 traditional reinsurance placement for the NFIP.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on January 10 that at least 20 individual billion-dollar disasters occurred in the United States in 2021, the second-most on record. The Washington Post published an article on NOAA’s findings on the 2021 billion-dollar disasters, highlighting that the Marshall Fire near Boulder, Colorado damaged or destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses.
President Biden approved a major disaster declaration for the State of Washington to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by flooding and mudslides from November 13-15, 2021. The declaration makes FEMA Individual Assistance (IA) available to residents in Clallam, Skagit, and Whatcom counties and the Lummi Nation, Nooksack Indian Tribe, and Quileute Tribe. HUD announced assistance is available to affected individuals in the counties and tribes covered by President Biden’s major disaster declaration.
Some Louisiana residents displaced by Hurricane Ida, which hit the area in August 2021, are only now being moved into FEMA mobile homes. As of January 10, about 7,500 Louisiana residents from over 2,600 households are residing in the roughly 3,000 RV trailers that FEMA and the state have set up. The trailers are part of Louisiana’s state program, which is funded through FEMA but operated by the state.
More than four months after Hurricane Ida, some Terrebonne Parish residents are finally moving out of tents and into temporary housing. About 1,800 trailers are set up in Terrebonne Parish and 3,000 across Louisiana. The demand far outweighs the supply of trailers, with nearly 19,000 people registered for the program.
The Advocate reports that almost a year and a half since back-to-back hurricanes devastated Lake Charles, nearly 2,000 households remain in FEMA-funded trailers and mobile homes. Most families will have to move out of the trailers on February 28, but the shortage of affordable housing is leaving many with no place to go. Many Section 8 and public housing units were severely damaged by the hurricanes and have yet to be repaired. The State of Louisiana requested a six-month extension and is awaiting a response.
“Unfortunately, I think what you’re seeing in Louisiana is the same thing that we see every time after a disaster, where you have a housing crisis before a disaster hits,” NLIHC Vice President of Public Policy Sarah Saadian told the Advocate. “You immediately have less housing supply, landlords raising the rents, evicting people so they can raise the rents for the next person, and FEMA programs that don’t adequately address the needs, especially for low-income renters.” NLIHC is advocating for several policy solutions to address these issues, including the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act, which would provide a permanent funding process, and the use of the federal Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP).
FEMA also released an update on federal support provided to New York residents in response to Hurricane Ida.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear asked President Biden to extend the federal government’s commitment to pay 100% of the cost of debris removal and emergency protective measures for an additional 90 days, but that request was denied. Instead, President Biden amended the major disaster declaration for Kentucky to make federal funds for FEMA Public Assistance (PA) costs available at 100% federal cost-share for a 30-day period of the state’s choosing within the first 120 days of the declaration.
Governor Beshear announced on January 10 that he has extended housing and food services at state parks for tornado survivors for an additional 30 days. The parks are currently housing 480 displaced individuals in 177 state park rooms. “For those who are displaced because of the tornadoes staying in our state parks, we’ve got you,” said Governor Beshear. “We are going to make sure that we can make that transition to semi-permanent housing and do it the right way. We are going to keep that housing available for at least another 30 days.”
The Kentucky House Appropriations and Revenue Committee passed a bill on January 11 to provide $200 million in tornado relief funds. H.B. 5 would provide $45 million in immediate relief and $155 million to be spent as needs are determined. The emergency funding would go toward temporary housing, transportation for displaced students, and wraparound services for students. Lawmakers are looking to fill in the gaps left in coverage offered by FEMA and insurance.
The Marshall Fire in Colorado destroyed more than 1,000 homes with a total value of more than $500 million. As of January 6, the fire had burned 1,084 homes and damaged another 149 residential structures. Governor Jared Polis explained that there are not enough available housing units near the Marshall Fire area to rehouse everyone who lost their homes in the fire.
According to the Colorado Sun, state officials and local organizations have been working to find more permanent lodging for the residents displaced by the Marshall Fire. A state recovery task force led by the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management began meeting on December 31 and will be prioritizing emergency housing. Governor Jared Polis spoke with President Biden and a FEMA administrator about resources for medium-term housing for residents who want to keep their children in local schools before rebuilding destroyed homes.
Boulder County is partnering with the Boulder Area Rental Housing Association to offer a list of housing resources available to residents displaced by the Marshall Fire. Boulder County and a network of community partners opened a Disaster Assistance Center on January 3 to help people who were displaced by the fire by offering access to a range of services. Those impacted by the Marshall Fire are encouraged to visit Boulder County’s Marshall Fire webpage, which is also available in Spanish, to learn about the recovery process and available resources for which they may qualify.
NLIHC’s Virtual Housing Policy Forum 2022: Achieving Housing Justice, taking place March 22-23, 2022, will feature a variety of interactive sessions with NLIHC experts, including one on Disaster Housing Recovery. Households with low incomes are frequently the most severely impacted by worsening climate-change-driven disasters, yet these households typically receive the fewest resources to help them fully recover. This interactive session with Noah Patton, NLIHC policy analyst for disaster recovery, will prepare participants to meet the challenges of short- and long-term disaster housing recovery. Register for the forum today!