The Universidad de Puerto Rico Resiliency Law Center held a congressional staff briefing on September 27 on the status of recovery in Puerto Rico titled “Four Years of Disenchantment: Reasons for Puerto Rico’s Lack of Recovery and What You Can Do About It.” Access the recording and briefing materials here.
Chrishelle Palay, NLIHC board member and director of the Houston Organizing Movement for Equity (HOME) Coalition, is co-hosting “But Next Time,” a limited-series podcast on community-based disaster response and recovery. The four-part podcast, one of five innovative media projects created by the Rise-Home Stories Project, is lifting up powerful narratives of collective action that are transforming how communities prepare for and respond to climate-fueled natural disasters. The first episode aired on October 6 and the second will air today (October 12) on the Making Contact program. Check local listings or watch the podcast feed. Read Memo, 10/4 to learn more about the HOME Coalition and the Rise-Home Stories Project.
Congress passed and the president signed a continuing resolution (CR) on September 30 extending current funding levels for the federal government until December 3, 2021. In addition to avoiding a government shutdown, the CR included $28.6 billion in disaster relief supplemental appropriation, including $5 billion in Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds. Of these funds, $1.61 billion will be directed to areas that experienced disasters in 2020. HUD has 30 days from the bill’s enactment – until November 3 – to appropriate the funding to the various states that suffered disasters in 2020 and 2021. We will keep readers updated on the progress of those funds as they move through the CDBG-DR process. Learn more here.
The Advocate reports that on October 4, Louisiana opened its Hurricane Ida Sheltering Program, which will provide temporary housing (e.g., travel trailers) to people impacted by the storm. Officials aim to have the first travel trailers set up within the week as teams begin assessing group and private location sites. Individuals can register for the program online or by calling (844) 268-0301.
FEMA will cover 90% of the Hurricane Ida Sheltering Program’s costs, but it is run entirely by the state. Governor John Bel Edwards says the program is designed to complement, not replace, other housing options offered through FEMA. Louisiana’s immediate temporary sheltering program will provide some immediate sheltering assistance until FEMA’s Direct Housing program is fully underway. Options under the Direct Housing program may take months to complete. FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program has been activated for Louisiana survivors, but the closest hotels available are two hours away in Picayune, Mississippi.
While recovery from Hurricane Ida is making headway elsewhere in Louisiana, housing remains a significant issue in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. One resident reports being left homeless after his apartment complex – comprised of nine buildings – was damaged in the storm. Thousands of Lafourche residents who lost their homes during Hurricane Ida remain homeless. Lafourche Parish officials estimate approximately 2,800 residents have been displaced by Ida.
FEMA is housing thousands of residents in hotel rooms, but thousands more are living in tents or unsafe structures to be near their homes while rebuilding. FEMA said on September 30 it is working with Terrebonne and Lafourche officials to set up tents until mobile homes can be brought in, but officials have not given a firm timeline on when the tents might be available.
PBS NewsHour reports on the devastation Hurricane Ida wrought along the Louisiana Gulf Coast – a region that was already facing a severe shortage of affordable homes. In some hard-hit areas in Louisiana’s Bayou region, officials estimate that 90% of homes are uninhabitable, including low-income apartment complexes and nursing homes.
Dozens of residents of three apartment complexes in Hammond owned by RichSmith Management are facing homelessness after receiving letters saying they must move out of their homes due to damage from Hurricane Ida. Many tenants say their units are livable.
One day after telling guests they must vacate the following day, the Hilton Garden Inn in Kenner decided to allow guests rendered homeless by Hurricane Ida to extend their stay. Participation by hotels in FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance program is not mandatory, and hotels can ask guests to leave at any time. The Hilton Garden Inn, which told the displaced residents they must leave due to “insufficient inventory,” was within its rights to ask them to leave.
Residents of a New Jersey apartment complex left uninhabitable by the severe flooding caused by Hurricane Ida held a rally on September 30 to demand HUD provide them housing. Four people died when the apartment complex flooded, and dozens of residents have been homeless since Ida. While the displaced residents were offered options for other places to stay, the options were unrealistic for many tenants. HUD issued a statement saying it will continue to provide rental assistance and work with the city of Elizabeth to ensure residents have a home until the units are repaired.
An article in the New Republic examines the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors’ decision to ban encampments in “very high fire hazard severity zones” of unincorporated L.A. County. While unincorporated areas account for 65% of the county’s territory, just 10% of the county’s residents live in these areas. According to fire department data, most encampment-related fires occur in downtown L.A. and neighboring regions. The author argues that by banning encampments in high-fire risk, low-density zones, L.A. County is forcing unhoused individuals to the areas where they will experience the highest risk from encampment fires.
NLIHC’s Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) is a group of over 850 local, state, and national organizations working to secure disaster recovery funding and key reforms to ensure every survivor, including those with the lowest incomes and those most marginalized, receives the assistance they need to fully recover and ensure that their communities can withstand future disasters. Read the DHRC’s full list of priorities here.
To find out more and get involved with the effort to approve disaster recovery funding and pass DHRC-supported reforms, join our Disaster Recovery Working Group that meets weekly on Tuesdays at 3 pm ET. If you haven’t joined already, become a member of the DHRC!