Disaster Housing Recovery Updates – July 16

The following is a review of housing recovery developments related to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the California wildfires since last week’s Memo to Members and Partners (for the article in last week’s Memo, see 7/9). NLIHC also posts this information at our On the Home Front blog.

Federal Response


Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) wrote a letter to Kathy Kraninger, program associate director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The letter expresses concern about Ms. Kraninger’s role in the Trump Administration’s response to Hurricane Maria. The senators request documentation related to her oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury, and HUD.


HUD approved the U.S. Virgin Islands’ disaster recovery plan for $243 million in CDBG-DR funds. The plan includes $5 million for rental rehabilitation and reconstruction, $15 million for supportive housing and sheltering programs, $32 million for public and affordable housing development, and $125.5 million for infrastructure. 

The Puerto Rico Department of Housing (PRDOH) posted more than 300 pages of public comments (and PRDOH responses) to Puerto Rico’s draft CDBG-DR Action Plan. In response to a letter sent on behalf of the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC), PRDOH added a rental assistance program for the elderly, a definition of “vulnerable population,” and a Title Clearance Program.

Local Perspectives

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new $1 million case management program to connect displaced Puerto Ricans with housing, social services, and employment opportunities. Governor Cuomo, in a letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long and HUD Secretary Ben Carson, urged the federal government to activate DHAP and extend TSA.

The mayor and two former government officials of Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, were arrested for allegedly using nearly $5 million in federal funds, including $2.5 million in HUD funds, to illegally pay the town’s public employees and municipal contractors.


The National Disaster Legal Aid Advocacy Center released a guide to expedite locating key features in a recording of its webinar, 25 Pro Tips for Working with FEMA: Lessons Learned that Work. It is designed for those providing legal assistance to clients in recovery efforts. To gain access, log in or sign up to be a member of the practice area.

Equal Justice Works launched a Disaster Recovery Legal Corps Fellowship Program to provide legal assistance to individuals impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The program will place 18 lawyers in Texas and 3 lawyers in Florida, where they will be matched with local nonprofits to provide legal assistance related to housing, employment, flood insurance, and public benefits.

DHRC Online Tool for Sharing Disaster Survivor Stories

Personal stories from disaster survivors can make a compelling case for the development of more responsive federal policies and programs, now and in the future. DHRC is collecting accounts from survivors of the 2017 hurricanes and wildfires and their advocates through a brief online form in both English and Spanish. Clients can choose to remain anonymous.