Disaster Preparedness in Florida, Rebuilding in California After Last Years’ Wildfires
A daily roundup of news impacting housing and communities. Not receiving the Community Developments daily email yet? Sign up here.
- An article in The Washington Post points out that Florida homes that are still standing after Hurricane Michael were often saved by low-cost reinforcements. It explains that the state adopted a stricter building code in the early 2000s, requiring new buildings to use tougher nails, have more puncture-resistant walls, and add shutters to openings, among other changes. These low-cost hurricane-proofing measures help protect structures from projectiles, which can breach windows and doors and create upward pressure on the rooves. The article emphasizes the importance of hurricane-proofing, which often results in insurance rate reductions and decreases the risk of displacement. (The Washington Post, October 17) Visit the Enterprise website to access disaster rebuilding, preparedness and policy resources.
- The Los Angeles Times notes that one year after 5,500 Sonoma County homes were lost in California’s devastating wildfire, the county is expediting construction permits to help residents rebuild their homes quickly, without restricting building in its fire-prone areas. Hazard mitigation experts urge the county to consider adopting stricter building and landscaping regulations in fire-prone neighborhoods as well as those that are not flagged as fire-prone zones but could still face hard-to-predict fire hazards. (LA Times, October 18) Another Los Angeles Times piece looks at Santa Rosa homeowners’ recovery from last year’s wildfires. It points out that many impacted homeowners have been dealing with massive insurance shortfalls, which have resulted from changes in building codes since their homes were constructed and the inflated cost of labor and materials that often follow natural disasters. (LA Times, October 15)
- Yesterday President Trump signaled that across-the-board budget cuts may be on the table for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) and beyond. With the federal budget deficit reaching a six-year high, the President indicated that federal spending should be reduced across the board, and instructed agency chiefs to each produce a proposed budget that cuts at least 5 percent from FY19 spending levels. Congress has largely rejected the administration’s proposed cuts over the past two years, but with a return to sequestration coming in FY20, a new budget deal will need to be reached to continue even level funding of affordable housing and community development programs. (PoliticoPro, October 17)
- Invest Atlanta has announced the creation of a $15 million transit-oriented development (TOD) fund, which will include $4.5 million of City of Atlanta Housing Opportunity Bond financing and $10.5 million from Enterprise Community Loan Fund and Low Income Investment Fund. This revolving fund will provide low-interest loans to non-profit and for-profit affordable housing developers to support the acquisition and pre-development of workforce housing near MARTA stations, the Atlanta Streetcar, the Atlanta BeltLine and other modes of transit. Enterprise Community Loan Fund and Low Income Investment Fund have implemented similar funding mechanisms in other areas, including the Bay Area, Denver, and the Puget Sound region.
- The city of Boston has announced the incorporation of a new set of diversity and inclusion criteria in Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for development on publicly owned parcels. The new policy mandates that respondents to RFPs on publicly owned parcels submit a Diversity and Inclusion plan aimed at creating opportunities for people of color and women in the fields of construction, design, development, financing, operations and ownership. Respondents to RFPs will also be required to submit plans to mitigate displacement from development. (NextCity, October 17) Read our report on "Public Benefit from Publicly Owned Parcels: Effective Practices in Affordable Housing Development.”