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How to prepare your PHA for potential disasters - Part 1

Posted by James Karner on Jul 16, 2019 7:00:00 AM

PHA Disaster Preparation

Disasters often strike unexpectedly and include a wide range of events. That’s why it’s important to be prepared before a disaster hits your community. By planning for disasters before they happen, you can help ensure your PHA has adequate resources and is ready to respond should a disaster affect your area. The information presented below aims to help your PHA create proper disaster plans and procedures as well as utilize all funding and resources that may be available during and after a disaster. This is a four part series, so be on the lookout for part two coming out next week!

Assessing your risks using a risk-based planning process

Where to start

When starting your disaster plan, certain assumptions should be made. They include, but are not limited to:

  • A catastrophic incident or attack will occur with little or no warning
  • There will be cascading effects associated with the incident
  • Inter- and Intra-state, local, tribal, territorial, and insular area government mutual aid capabilities will be exhausted
  • Local government capabilities may not exist or be functional
  • Other federal agencies are executing relevant support under their own authorities

It is not likely that all these conditions will be true in a single event, but your preparation should consider all these a possibility. In doing so, you can ensure that your PHA has outlined what you will do if any of these assumptions become a reality.

 

The risk assessment

After creating your list of assumptions, a risk assessment should be conducted to help categorize potential events and the probability of each occurring. Risk assessments should aim to accomplish four main goals: identify hazards, profile hazards, inventory assets, and estimate losses.

When identifying hazards, it is highly important to plan based on your location, which should be a driving factor in your approach. Consideration should be given to the following:

  • Proximity to the coast
  • Potential for major weather events (winter snowstorms vs hurricanes or tornadoes)
  • Proximity to biohazard plants
  • Infrastructure vulnerabilities (levies, dams, flood control and drainage)

When profiling hazards, the focus should be on small events that might occur frequently, as well as massive regional or national events that are less likely to happen. This will help keep your PHA prepared for the more common issues that will occur and the potential of a rare or infrequent but more substantial occurrence.

When creating an inventory of assets, you should consider all buildings, material, machinery, and other such assets, doing so will help prepare you on everything that might have been lost during the disaster. Remember to account for smaller items including maintenance and janitorial supplies. Often times smaller equipment and supplies have significant cumulative value and cannot be reimbursed by insurance or disaster aid if not properly documented, inventoried, and tracked.

You will also need to estimate potential losses by considering and calculating what the expected losses will be for different events (as identified previously). This should be recorded so you’ll know ahead of time what costs you’ll be accruing during and after a disaster has occurs. Some of the resources available to PHAs include FEMA.gov, HUD’s CDBG-DR toolkit, and other local agencies.

 

Assessing vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities can be difficult to identify, but every entity has unique vulnerabilities that are necessary to prepare for. Often times the impacts of a disaster are multiplied based on vulnerabilities that were apparent and known prior to the disaster occurring. When identifying vulnerabilities, you should review the natural environment, built environment, and barriers to accessing services.

When considering natural environments, you’ll need to look at location or proximity to hazard-prone areas. These areas are coasts, the tornado alley, floodplains, seismic zones, and potential contamination sites. You’ll need to determine which of these natural environments will have an impact on your community should a disaster occur. This will help you to determine what disaster plans you’ll need to make.

Built environments may include, but are not limited to, poorly constructed buildings, inadequately maintained public infrastructure, and inaccessible housing. Some public housing may be at greater risk because of age or health of residents which may require extra resources during and after a disaster. Another key factor to look at is the density of the buildings and/or residents who reside in them. Knowing the number of people located in an area can show you where you’ll need to spend extra time planning in your disaster preparation.

In addition to the natural and built environments, barriers to accessing services should also be considered. When assessing possible barriers, you’ll need to identify the services needed and their potential to be impacted by a disaster. Having this list will show you where you should allocate your resources, as well as creating a plan for these communities in case they are affected by a disaster.

Next: Continuity plans: how planning for the future impacts the present 

 

Learn how NMA can help you  in disaster recovery planning

 

About the author

James Karner headshot

With nearly a decade of experience in the affordable housing industry, James Karner has served with Nan McKay & Associates since 2012 in various roles including quality control, finance, procurement, compliance, and as a trainer. He is currently based in NMA’s Houston office, where he actively works on several CDBG-DR projects including Harris County, Texas and Joplin, Missouri.

Topics: disaster programs, CDBG-DR, climate and disaster resilience

Community development and housing news: June 6, 2019

Posted by NMA on Jun 6, 2019 1:32:12 PM

Community development and housing news for June 6, 2019

House Appropriations Committee approves 2020 HUD funding bill, Congress passes disaster relief package including $900 million for Puerto Rico, HUD announces new PIH inspection protocol, and other stories we're following this week.

Breaking newscongress-2

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday advanced a $137.1 billion spending bill covering transportation and housing, about $6 billion above current levels.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development would receive most of the increase, bringing its funding to $50.1 billion. The bill would also block a public housing rule on undocumented immigrants from the administration that Democrats say would “threaten the housing tenure of 55,000 children who are citizens or legal residents.” Read more

A long-delayed $19.1 billion disaster aid bill is headed to the president for his expected signature, overcoming months of Congressional infighting.

Lawmakers gave the measure final congressional approval on Monday by 354-58 in the House’s first significant action after returning from a 10-day recess. It was backed by all 222 voting Democrats and 132 Republicans, including the GOP’s top leaders and many of its legislators from areas hit by hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and fires. Read more

Last week HUD requested comments on a planned two-year continuation of the UPCS-V demonstration.

According to the notice, the extension is necessary in order to meet congressional instructions to implement a single inspection protocol for public housing and voucher units. This new physical inspection model will be NSPIRE, intended to improve upon the current UPCS protocol by prioritizing health, safety, and functional defects. Read more

Landlords participating in a new Virgin Islands disaster relief program could receive up to $50,000 per unit to repair their damaged apartments.

One of the most daunting problems facing locals looking for permanent housing is the cost of rent in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which shot up following the 2017 storms when rental units became short in supply and demand increased. To help with the situation, the local government is unveiling in July a new program using CDBG-DR funds to provide up to $50,000 per apartment to landlords to repair damaged rental property. Read more 

FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available to the state of Kansas to supplement state and local response efforts to the emergency conditions in the area affected by flooding beginning on May 9, 2019.

The assistance will be provided to Anderson, Butler, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Cowley, Crawford, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Harvey, Montgomery, Neosho, Osage, Reno, Sumner, Wilson, and Woodson counties. Read more

In California, PG&E received approval to set up a $105 million wildfire assistance fund.

PG&E Corp may set up a $105 million housing fund for victims of 2017 and 2018 wildfires in California, which were blamed on the utility’s equipment. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali approved a motion by PG&E seeking permission to establish the fund for people who lost homes in the fires and were uninsured or have used up or will exhaust their insurance. Read more

Communities in the Greater Miami area banded together to create a regional resilience strategy.

The plan contains more than 50 actions focused on issues such as the environment, infrastructure and economic prosperity. Some of the measures address mobility, housing options, energy efficiencies, financial stability and advancing public health priorities. Read more

 

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Topics: appropriations, UPCS-V, CDBG-DR, disaster recovery, climate and disaster resilience, NSPIRE

NMA announces opening of new office in Houston

Posted by NMA on Apr 24, 2019 12:03:12 PM

Today Nan McKay & Associates celebrated the opening of a new company office in downtown Houston. The Texas office joins the NMA team as the eighth location nationwide, with other offices currently in San Diego, California; Miami, Florida; Tallahassee, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; Frankfort, Kentucky; Georgetown, Kentucky; and New Orleans, Louisiana. The Louisiana office, located in Jefferson Parish, is the most recently opened office preceding Houston. NMA began administering the Housing Authority of Jefferson Parish (HAJP)'s housing choice voucher program last autumn.

The new Houston office will serve as a base for NMA's community development team, which is assisting Harris County with their Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery plan. Catherine Ures, NMA's vice president of professional services, has been instrumental in helping the county establish and implement a response to the Harvey storm in 2017, which inflicted $125 billion in damage in the Houston metropolitan area and Southeast Texas.

"The hardworking people at the Harris County Community Services Department have done an incredible job in getting Project Recovery off the ground, and we're so excited to be a part of this huge initiative," Ures said. “We want Harris County to be a global model for disaster recovery and resilience."

Project Recovery includes an extensive group of disaster recovery programs for which Harris County has so far been allocated $1.2 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding from the federal government.

Founded in 1980, NMA has led disaster recovery programs in Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina. The company also administers more than 75,000 vouchers at housing authorities nationwide. With offices in across the United States, the San Diego-based, woman-owned company is a leader in program administration and community development strategies, including resilience planning. For more information, visit www.nanmckay.com, or call (800) 783-3100.

Learn more about resilience planning

Topics: disaster programs, CDBG-DR, company news, disaster recovery, climate and disaster resilience

Community development and housing news

Posted by NMA on Apr 18, 2019 8:21:00 AM

Community development and housing news for April 18, 2019

Breaking news

HUD announces disaster aid for storm victims in Nebraska and Iowa

Late Friday HUD posted two press releases announcing that it will speed federal disaster assistance to the states of Iowa and Nebraska and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes due to severe winter storms and flooding. Presidential disaster declarations allow HUD to offer foreclosure relief and other assistance to certain families living in impacted counties.

According to the press release, the disaster assistance will:

Click here for more information about disaster resources.

Kamala Harris revives tax credit push to help people pay for housing costs

"Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris is reviving her proposal to provide new tax credits to help families with high housing costs. The California senator on Tuesday will reintroduce the Rent Relief Act, which would establish refundable tax credits in cases when rent and utilities exceed 30 percent of a household’s income. She first introduced the legislation last July, with a handful of Senate Democrats as co-sponsors, including New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, who is also running for president..." Read more

More money for Berkeley area, Sandy-impacted homeowners

"Berkeley area homeowners could benefit from the Murphy administration's plan to remove the cap on access to Sandy-related funds, allowing homeowners who have long been in limbo to complete construction on their primary homes. Additionally, those still impacted by Sandy will be able to get additional months of rental assistance, according to press release from the Murphy administration..." Read more

U.S. House passes five-year reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act

"On April 4, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization of 2019 (H.R. 1585) on a 263 to 158 vote. The legislation would reauthorize VAWA for five-years and improve the program by expanding eligibility for assistance and increasing funding for grant programs utilized by state and local VAWA service providers..." Read more

House committee discusses permanently authorizing disaster recovery program

"On March 26, the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Reform heard testimony on draft legislation to permanently authorize the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program. The Reforming Disaster Recovery Act of 2019 would permanently authorize CDBG-DR as a part of the yearly appropriations process and bring clarity to how the program should be administered. CDBG-DR is used by state and local governments to address unmet needs for housing, infrastructure and economic development recovery in the wake of a presidentially-declared disaster..." Read more

What we're reading

Reversing the residual effects of redlining

"While systemic barriers still exist, local governments can play a pivotal role in reversing the effects of historical redlining and creating opportunity for their residents. Here are four ways local leaders can begin to map residual inequity and start healing processes in their communities..." Read more

Fighting bias, block by block

"The residue of those discriminatory practices lingers today, fueling stereotypes that seed the stigma attached to black people and black places. Research has shown the power of those stereotypes to shape one of the most fundamental decisions of our lives: where we make our homes. African Americans are more likely than any other group to live in segregated neighborhoods. That residential isolation persists across the social and economic spectrums, in cities large and small. And it is reinforced by prejudicial associations that are shocking to document..." Read more

Not trusting FEMA’s flood maps, more storm-ravaged cities set tougher rules

"In flood-prone regions of the country, a growing number of cities have lost confidence in the ability of the federal government's flood maps to recognize the increasing risks that come with global warming. From Houston to Baltimore to Cedar Falls, Iowa, and now Mexico Beach, Florida, local officials are going beyond the federal standards and have started to require homes in a much wider area—beyond the usual 100-year floodplain—to be built to higher flood-protection standards..." Read more

The crushing cost of rent should be 2020’s big issue

"It’s hard to remember the last time affordable rents received consistent national attention, but the tide is finally turning. In recent months, prominent presidential contenders — Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren — have proposed ambitious solutions, and are speaking substantively about the issue on the campaign trail. They shouldn’t be alone in this: According to the numbers, all 2020 presidential hopefuls would be wise to make it a top-tier priority..." Read more

The neighborhoods where housing costs devour budgets

"More than 10 percent of U.S. households spend at least half their total income on housing costs—far more than the one-third that financial experts advise as a maximum limit. These severely housing-burdened households can be rich or poor, but around half of them are located in neighborhoods where at least one neighbor in three is facing a similar housing burden, according to a CityLab analysis of U.S. Census data obtained from the National Historical Geographic Information System..." Read more

The history of redlining

"The history of redlining is best demonstrated in a map prepared by the United States Home Owner Loan Corporation (HOLC), one of the Roosevelt administration’s most successful programs designed to refinance Americans into sustainable mortgages. Millions of white Americans took advantage of the program and most saved their homes from foreclosure as a result. Black Americans who needed the program lost their homes, along with those white homeowners who lived in integrated neighborhoods..." Read more

Why high rents are a health care problem

"Commissioned by Enterprise Community Partners Inc., a national affordable housing nonprofit, the survey found that more than half of renters surveyed delayed health care because they couldn’t afford it, and 100 percent of medical professionals surveyed said they had dealt with patients in the past who expressed concerns and anxiety about affordable housing. When these doctors and nurses advised patients to reduce stress, 92 of them percent said financial issues were their biggest stress trigger..." Read more

Rural America faces a housing cost crunch

"The problem of housing affordability, long a concern in popular big cities, has moved to rural America.Nearly one-fourth of the nation’s most rural counties have seen a sizeable increase this decade in the number of households spending at least half their income on housing, a category the federal government calls 'severely cost-burdened.' Those counties, none with towns of more than 10,000 residents, have experienced housing cost increases significant enough to force families to scrimp on other necessities..." Read more

Doing the math on housing the homeless

"Housing prices are chronically unaffordable in many American cities. Most prominently, mega-cities like San Francisco and New York feature home prices that effectively price out poor and middle-income people from vast swathes of their environs; however, there are also plenty of mid-size cities that have less extreme affordability problems. Several strategies are frequently on the table to make housing more affordable to those of moderately low incomes. These include: (1) increasing allowed residential construction, (2) incentivizing housing by offering additional air/development rights, (3) subsidizing housing, (4) requiring the mandatory provision of affordable housing alongside market-rate development, and (5) increasing the amount of government-run housing..." Read more

How disasters wreak havoc on financial health and what we can do about it

"Natural disasters like Hurricane Florence lead to broad, and often substantial, negative impacts on financial health. In a new report, we find that these impacts vary by the magnitude of the disaster and affected populations and that negative impacts extend across most measures of financial health, including credit scores, debt in collections, bankruptcy, credit card debt, and mortgage delinquency and foreclosures. In many instances, these effects are substantial..." Read more

BangorHousing shows how small housing authorities can be more than property managers

"For more than a decade, the Urban Institute’s HOST Initiative (Housing Opportunities and Services Together) has partnered with housing authorities—mostly large, well-resourced agencies that serve thousands of households—to develop and test strategies for using housing as a platform for delivering wraparound services for their residents. Through this work, we’ve learned about the value of building on people’s strengths and using approaches that are trauma informed..." Read more

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Topics: fair housing, CDBG-DR, multifamily

HUD approves disaster recovery plans for Florida, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Texas

Posted by Annie Stevenson on Mar 13, 2019 2:21:09 PM

Last week the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it has approved the latest disaster recovery action plans for Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Both plans include tight fiscal controls.

In the first press release, HUD announced approval of the latest disaster action recovery plan to help Florida continue to rebuild from Hurricane Irma. The plan will invest an additional $158 million through the Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG–DR) program to address lingering unmet needs in impacted Florida counties, including seriously damaged housing, businesses and infrastructure.

The second press release announces that HUD has also approved an amended disaster action recovery plan for the U.S. Virgin Islands. An additional $779 million in CDBG-DR funds will be invested for continued recovery efforts following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Each press release includes the following statement:

HUD requires that these recovery dollars be targeted to local communities that experienced the greatest impact and that all disaster relief funds will be spent in a manner that helps disaster victims. As a result, HUD will impose strict conditions and financial controls on the use of these funds.

HUD also recently announced that is has approved Puerto Rico’s latest disaster recovery action plan to help the island continue to rebuild from Hurricanes Maria and Irma, as well as an additional $652 million to support Texas’ recovery from Hurricane Harvey. HUD supports recovery from disasters such as Hurricane Harvey through its CDBG–DR program, which requires grantees to develop recovery plans with thought and input from local residents. Texas’ latest recovery plan adds to the $5 billion in HUD-funded recovery programs for the state that HUD approved last June and focuses mainly on restoring damaged and destroyed homes, businesses, and infrastructure.

Learn more about preparing for a disaster

Topics: CDBG-DR, Industry News, disaster recovery

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