HUD Announces Disaster Assistance for Hurricane Harvey Victims
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, HUD has announced that it will speed federal disaster assistance to the State of Texas and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes due to the hurricane. The original disaster declaration has been amended four times to expand the areas covered. To date, 43 counties are covered for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) public assistance program. In addition, 39 counties are covered for FEMA individual assistance and debris removal. All 43 counties are eligible for Hazard Mitigation grants. The declaration also allows HUD to offer mortgage/foreclosure relief and other assistance to certain families living in impacted counties.
In addition, HUD, FEMA, and the Small Business Administration have released a joint statement committing to survivor housing for those displaced by the disaster as a priority for the federal and state recovery. The joint letter lists short-term as well as intermediate and long-term housing activities. According to the statement, HUD is the lead federal coordinating agency for long-term disaster-related housing needs resulting from Hurricane Harvey. Federal partners are working closely with the Texas state-led housing task force, as well as other state, local, tribal, and voluntary agencies, to meet the need for quality affordable rental homes. They’re also focused on identifying strategies to strengthen the housing market, building inclusive and sustainable communities, and integrating disaster mitigation measures into community design and development, to reduce future damages.
HUD is primarily supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Justice, FEMA, and other federal departments, agencies, and national organizations. Below is a summary of the short-term, intermediate, and long-term efforts already underway:
Short-Term Housing Activities
- For those who are eligible for FEMA assistance, FEMA transitional housing assistance provides lodging to displaced survivors who need a place immediately. FEMA pays the hotel/motel directly for this assistance.
- Local communities, the American Red Cross, and other voluntary and faith-based agencies are providing emergency shelter to those displaced by the storm and subsequent flooding.
- AmeriCorps and other voluntary and faith-based organizations are helping to clean out flood-damaged homes.
- HUD is immediately assisting those displaced from public housing and multifamily subsidized rental units. Immediate foreclosure relief may also be available for Texas residents. HUD is granting a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages.
Intermediate and Long-Term Housing Activities
HUD is giving communities in Presidentially-declared disaster areas the flexibility to redirect millions of dollars in annual CDBG and HOME formula funding to address critical needs, including housing and services for disaster survivors. In addition, HUD is:
Making mortgage insurance available: HUD provides FHA insurance to disaster victims who have lost their homes and are facing the daunting task of rebuilding or buying another home. Borrowers from participating FHA-approved lenders may be eligible for 100 percent financing.
Making insurance available for both mortgages and home rehabilitation: HUD's Section 203(k) loan program enables those who have lost their homes to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. It also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family home.
Offering Section 108 loan guarantee assistance: HUD will offer state and local governments federally guaranteed loans for housing rehabilitation, economic development, and repair of public infrastructure.
Providing information on housing providers and HUD programs. HUD will share information with FEMA and the state on housing providers that may have available units in the impacted counties. This includes public housing agencies and multifamily owners. HUD will also connect FEMA and the state to subject matter experts to provide information on HUD programs and providers.
Also, FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program provides financial assistance in the form of grants to survivors with uninsured or under-insured flood-related losses. To date, more than 176,000 individuals and households have been approved for more than $141 million in assistance. Of that amount, $50 million is approved for housing assistance, such as rental assistance. Survivors may use the rental assistance to obtain temporary housing such as a house, apartment, hotel, motel, or other readily available dwelling for rent by the public.
And the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance. Loans are available up to $200,000 for primary residence and $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. As of Sept. 1, 2017, the SBA has received 2,118 disaster loan applications, primarily for homes. The SBA has fielded 5,221 calls and completed 451 property damage inspections.