Disaster Housing Recovery Updates – July 26, 2021

The NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition convenes and supports disaster-impacted communities to ensure that federal disaster recovery efforts reach all impacted households, including the lowest-income and most marginalized people who are often the hardest-hit by disasters and have the fewest resources to recover. Learn more about the DHRC’s policy recommendations here. 

DHRC Updates

The NLIHC-led DHRC submitted on July 20 a comment letter to FEMA’s Request for Information on Equity and Inclusion. NLIHC’s comment letter addresses the negative impacts that FEMA programs, regulations, and policies have on the lowest-income and most marginalized survivors and how those failures reinforce vulnerabilities to climate change, housing insecurity, and racial segregation.

NLIHC Senior Research Analyst Dan Emmanuel joined last week’s (7/20) DHRC Disaster Recovery Working Group call to discuss the new report from NLIHC and the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation, “Taking Stock: Natural Hazards and Federally Assisted Housing.” The report finds that one-third of federally assisted rental homes are located in areas at high risk for negative impacts from natural hazards like flooding, hurricane winds and storm surge, and wildfire. Read the report and check out the Taking Stock Mapping Tool.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), a long-time partner of the DHRC, has sued FEMA for failure to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding Winter Storm Uri. La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), an advocacy group involved in disaster recovery efforts in the Rio Grande Valley, filed a FOIA request three months after Winter Storm Uri, which killed 136 people in Texas and caused at least $195 billion in damages. FEMA’s failure to disclose the rules and procedures it uses in determining disaster aid negatively impacts people whose claims were denied and those who received far less than the cost of repairing their property.


NBC News reports three of the wealthiest states – California, New Jersey, and Washington – are expected to receive more than half of the first wave of grant funding through FEMA’s new Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program. Of the more than 500 communities that received no funding, many lack the resources to prepare for extreme weather, which is raising concerns that more advantaged communities won big, while poor areas remain in need. In some cases, disadvantaged areas do not have the funds for the matching part of the grant or lack the resources to develop a competitive grant application.


President Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Michigan in response to the severe storms, flooding, and tornadoes that occurred on June 25 and 26. FEMA’s Individual Assistance (IA) is available to impacted individuals in Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

Severe Heat

An op-ed in USA Today discusses the significant health consequences of climate change, highlighting the dangers of the severe heat and wildfires. At least 150 deaths have been attributed to the severe heat in the Pacific Northwest during the recent heat wave, with the elderly and unhoused populations especially impacted.


In preparation for potential poor quality air quality conditions during this wildfire season, the Seattle Human Services Department, in partnership with the Office of Emergency Management and Public Health – Seattle and King County, is planning to support unsheltered individuals by opening up cleaner air shelters and conducting outreach.

The Bootleg Fire has burned at least 70 homes and more than 100 outbuildings. At least 2,000 homes have been evacuated during the fire and another 5,000 threatened.