Disaster Housing Recovery Updates – September 13, 2021

NLIHC Updates

Take Action! Sign your organization on to a letter supporting the bipartisan “Reforming Disaster Recovery Act” to ensure every disaster survivor receives the assistance they need to recover fully. If enacted, the legislation would permanently authorize the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program, which provides states, tribes, and communities with flexible, long-term recovery resources needed to rebuild affordable housing and infrastructure after a disaster. The bill would also provide important tools and safeguards to ensure that federal disaster recovery efforts reach all impacted households, including the lowest-income and most marginalized survivors who are often hardest hit by disasters and have the fewest resources to recover. Read NLIHC’s fact sheet on the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act. Add your organization to a growing list of groups supporting this important bill!

Learn more about NLIHC’s Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) policy recommendations here. 

National Updates

Biden Administration

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on September 7 sent Congress an urgent spending request asking for $14 billion in aid to respond to recent and ongoing natural disasters, including the wildfires in the West and multiple hurricanes, including Ida, Laura, and Delta. As part of the request, OMB Director Shalanda Young called for Congress to appropriate funding as part of a short-term continuing resolution to address the disasters that occurred before Hurricane Ida. The White House expects that Hurricane Ida will significantly increase the need for further disaster response funding by at least $10 billion. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in a statement referred to the administration’s request as “just what is needed to help hard hit communities all across the country” and pledged to work with Republicans to enact this emergency relief by the end of September.


Roll Call reports that the Louisiana congressional delegation sent a letter to President Joe Biden on September 2 in advance of his trip to their state to survey the damage from Hurricane Ida on Friday. “Without substantial and robust emergency appropriations from Congress to critical unmet needs accounts like the CDBG-DR program, Louisiana families will continue to languish as a result of these devastating storms," wrote the delegation.


FEMA announced major policy reforms to address long-standing title documentation barriers that prevented the lowest-income and most marginalized disaster survivors from receiving the assistance needed to recover. Read NLIHC’s Memo and FEMA’s fact sheet to learn more. These reforms – developed and advanced by the DHRC and its partners in impacted communities and championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) – are a major victory for disaster survivors, advocates, and the DHRC.

The Washington Post reports on the changes to FEMA’s policy, emphasizing that the policy FEMA is ending had prevented many Black families in the rural South from accessing aid after natural disasters.

Hurricane Ida

Federal News

President Biden approved major disaster declarations for New Jersey and New York, making federal aid available for people in six New Jersey counties and five New York counties.

HUD announced on September 8 that disaster assistance is available for New Jersey and New York disaster survivors in the counties included in President Biden’s major disaster declaration.

New Orleans Public Radio reports that as of September 4, FEMA had given out over $93 million to more than 93,000 people in Louisiana in the form of both $500 payments and temporary housing rental assistance. FEMA has also started a transitional housing fund with nearby hotels. Louisiana residents affected by Ida can complete an application at: disasterassistance.gov

State and Local News

In the wake of Hurricane Ida, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed an emergency order freezing eviction proceedings statewide until September 24. Under Governor Edwards’ order, landlords must provide tenants five days’ notice before filing eviction paperwork, and then there are further wait times before a landlord can remove the tenant. None of these actions can proceed until September 27. Evictions in New Orleans and many storm-affected areas had already been paused with local courts shut down after Hurricane Ida.

Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center Director Cashauna Hill and Loyola Law Professor David Finger sent Governor Edwards a letter on August 31 calling for a pause on evictions, either across Louisiana or in storm-affected regions.

In Houma and Thibodaux, tenants of several local apartment complexes are being evicted and given two weeks to move all of their belongings. Most tenants have learned about this through word of mouth and social media. Even tenants in lightly damaged complexes are being evicted. This is an illegal practice.

Elders from the hard-hit United Houma Nation are struggling through the disaster recovery process after Hurricane Ida.

Residents of Terrebonne’s bayou communities report that disaster aid is slow to arrive and communication about assistance is spotty or nonexistent. Lower Pointe-aux-Chenes, where many members of the Pointe-au-Chien Tribe live, is still not reachable by vehicle. Hurricane Ida destroyed or heavily damaged many members’ homes.

Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson said 25% of the homes in his parish of 100,000 people were destroyed or had catastrophic damage and that an additional 40% had severe damage. Emergency officials warned evacuees considering returning to Terrebonne Parish that there were “no shelters, no electricity, very limited resources for food, gasoline and supplies, and absolutely no medical services.”

In the wake of Hurricane Ida, many people still need a place to stay. “I know a lot of my family members are sleeping in their cars,” said one survivor of Hurricane Ida.

The Associated Press reports senior living apartments in New Orleans are getting more in-depth inspections after it became clear after Hurricane Ida that many lacked working generators, which left residents trapped in wheelchairs on dark, sweltering upper floors.

Bloomberg reports that widespread power failures due to Hurricane Ida caused chemicals and sewage to spill into floodwaters, complicating recovery and raising concerns about toxic discharges.

An op-ed in Houma Today asks politicians, media outlets, and multi-million dollars companies whether they will continue to treat South Louisiana communities as expendable. The author, Kezia Setyawan, asks the following questions: “Once the lights come on in New Orleans, will you forget our towns down the bayou? Will you continue to forget southwest Louisiana after Hurricane Laura last year? When will you let Black and Indigenous communities lead that center deep sustainable care for the place we call home? Will people be given the funds and resources they need to be able to come home?”

New York Governor Hochul estimated that her state sustained at least $50 million in damages from Hurricane Ida. The state launched a website to help New Yorkers find assistance. Governor Hochul also directed $378 million in previously awarded hazard mitigation funds provided by FEMA to bolster the state’s infrastructure against the hazards of “extreme weather.”