FEMA and HUD Collaborate on Disaster Recovery Solutions

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Urban Housing & Development (HUD), have published the Pre-Disaster Housing Planning Initiative Report to promote collaborative approaches to disaster housing recovery challenges and bolster state planning for housing recovery before disasters occur.

This joint effort helps build local capacity and ensures states, Tribal Nations and territories adopt a proactive approach to housing recovery. The initiative was created to assist families and communities recover effectively from disasters, and helps states move from short-term sheltering programs to more sustainable housing solutions.

“One of the most heartbreaking consequences of disasters is when an individual’s home is damaged or destroyed, leaving individuals concerned about where their family is going to live,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “Securing post-disaster housing is a major challenge for communities as they begin recovery. FEMA and HUD are partnering together to help communities identify and understand housing gaps before disasters strike to be better positioned to face these challenges head on and help survivors jumpstart their recovery.”

Disasters tend to exacerbate existing housing challenges like limited housing stock, rising rents and increased costs to vulnerable populations. Planning around existing housing shortfalls before disasters can help communities recover more quickly during emergencies and ensure more resilient outcomes.

Report highlights

Key findings in the report include the importance of identifying and addressing housing recovery challenges in a non-disaster environment, the benefit of information sharing among states and the value in tailoring federal support and resources to the unique needs and challenges of each state. Due to the success of this partnership, both agencies are working toward initiating a second cohort with new state partners.

“I’ve traveled throughout the country to witness the aftermath of natural disasters and the devastating impact on communities, including my hometown,” said HUD Acting Secretary Adrianne Todman. “This partnership with FEMA is important to ensure that when another disaster strikes, recovery can occur quickly and people receive the help they need.”

Through the Pre-Disaster Housing Initiative (PDHI), technical assistance was provided to four states—Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, and Washington—over the course of 2023. Each state began the Initiative by convening working groups to discuss the issues they face related to housing and housing recovery.

Louisiana used the Initiative to revise its 2019 Disaster Housing Strategy, focusing on identifying and clearly defining transitions between agencies during the housing response and recovery phases. Additionally, the State working group discussed developing instate educational efforts to increase the public’s and local housing agencies’ knowledge of state and federal resources. In addition to ongoing recovery efforts still underway following Hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Ida. The state of Louisiana remains committed to revising their plan and continues to work toward finalizing the Disaster Housing Strategy following their November working group meeting.

The state of Montana used the Initiative to update its Disaster Housing Strategy Framework. To identify what areas of the Framework needed additional input, the State working group conducted a gap analysis, and these findings were then used to develop an updated strategy that included a framework and guidance for continued and future planning/development. Although stakeholder input and review were not complete by the end of the Initiative, Montana emergency management and housing partners have continued to engage their Disaster Housing Working Group in reviewing the Strategy, creating a subgroup, and developing a project plan for finalizing the Strategy, and addressing findings from the gap analysis.

And the state of New Jersey used the Initiative to create a Housing Recovery Support Function (RSF) Annex to complement the State’s existing Emergency Support Function (ESF) plans, which focused on short-term and sheltering actions with limited detail for long-term housing recovery operations. The working group focused on defining roles and responsibilities in the RSF, developing a concept of operations for housing recovery, identifying state and federal housing recovery resources, and defining preparedness activities such as training, exercising, and updating the plan. The State is also scheduling quarterly meetings with state, FEMA, and HUD leaders to discuss strategies for furthering New Jersey’s housing recovery preparedness.

Washington used the Initiative to revise their existing RSF plan for housing. In addition to revising their Housing RSF, the state working group formed a Disaster Housing Committee to carry on their collaborative housing work after the Initiative ended.

The latest challenge

Hurricane Beryl, the second named storm of the 2024 season, made its final landfall over coastal Texas earlier this week. The storm traveled more than 4,000 miles since the National Hurricane Center (NHC) named it as a tropical storm in the central Atlantic Ocean.

According to the NHC, Hurricane Beryl made landfall over Matagorda, Texas as a Category 1 cyclone with maximum sustained wind speeds of 80 miles per hour. After landfall, Hurricane Beryl turned north and north-northeast while maintaining hurricane strength hours after landfall, as weather stations across the Houston area recorded hurricane-force wind gusts.

FEMA has announced that federal disaster assistance is available to the state of Texas to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Beryl from July 5-9, 2024. Benjamin Abbott has been named Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas. Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further assessments.

CoreLogic’s Hazard HQ Command Central estimates that total insured wind and storm surge losses in Texas will be between $700 million and $1.5 billion. This is an initial estimate that may be updated when more data becomes available. The estimated losses include damage to residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural properties, including damage to contents and business interruption. The estimate includes demand surge. The losses do not include damage to offshore exposure. The estimated flood losses do not include losses to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

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Eric C. Peck

MortgagePoint Managing Digital Editor Eric C. Peck has 25-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry. He graduated from the New York Institute of Technology, where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career in New York City with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage finance space. Peck has edited three published books, and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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