NMHC Does Not Expect Much Demand for Apartments as Gulf Coast Recovers from Storm

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorWashington, D.C.–In the wake of Hurricane Gustav, the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) has been in several discussions with the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to plan ahead. “Obviously, they are taking steps in advance after learning their lesson with Hurricane Katrina,” Jeanne McGlynn Delgado, vice president of business and risk management policy, NMHC, tells MHN.“We were fortunate that Hurricane Gustav wasn’t as bad as Katrina, but we have put the information out there and it is an ongoing process. My expectation is that there won’t be much demand for apartments in the current situation,” adds Delgado. In the short- and medium-term, NMHC believes that hotels and shelters are better alternatives for displaced households than unfurnished apartments. “If longer-term housing is needed from the apartment industry, however, we will press federal officials to create a housing program that incorporates the many lessons learned during Hurricane Katrina,” says Doug Bibby, president of NMHC. At this point, HUD has said it is too early to identify specific needs. “They indicate that they will be providing disaster housing assistance in accordance with their recently released 2008 Disaster Housing Plan, which includes moving toward state-managed, federally funded interim housing programs.” In terms of identifying available rental housing, NMHC expects the government to rely heavily on the National Housing Locator (NHL) system created last year by HUD with support from NMHC’s MITS data standard. Meanwhile, HUD has announced that it is ready to speed federal disaster assistance to hurricane-ravaged counties throughout the Gulf Coast and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes following Hurricane Gustav. This assistance includes foreclosure relief for families whose damaged homes are insured through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) who are living in areas declared as disaster areas by President Bush.A presidential disaster declaration triggers a variety of federal assistance including grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.