FEMA Continues to Refuse to Stand Up Disaster Housing Assistance Program

Since Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria hit more than eight months ago, FEMA has continually refused to stand up the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), a proven and effective strategy for providing stable, longer-term housing assistance and wrap-around case management services for survivors. FEMA sent a letter on May 15 rejecting the Puerto Rico governor’s December request to activate the program, and the agency has published a fact sheet claiming DHAP is unnecessary and inefficient, which advocates dispute.

The NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition of more than 700 organizations has issued a one-page “Setting the Record Straight” response to FEMA’s claims, arguing that DHAP is the most efficient and proven way to provide low income survivors longer-term housing assistance and the services they need to rebuild their lives. FEMA has instead relied heavily on the Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program, which pays for hotel rooms for survivors. TSA is a short-term sheltering program that fails to help survivors access longer-term housing and services to help them get back on their feet. 

FEMA officials have stated that governors of the impacted states/territories need to formally request DHAP before standing up the program. Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rosselló requested DHAP in mid-December, 2017, but FEMA sent a letter on May 15 rejecting the request. The letter claims that the assistance provided under FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP) – particularly the Direct Lease program – is a better solution for Puerto Rican survivors. But the letter also admits that only 181 households have been placed in homes through the Direct Lease program, while 2,204 households remain in hotel rooms through the TSA program. 

Read NLIHC’s “Setting the Record Straight: FEMA’s Failure to Address Long Term Housing Needs of Survivors” at: https://bit.ly/2IrEraM