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HUD extends disaster relief to Hurricane Harvey victims

Estimates 200,000 FHA-insured homeowners live in disaster area

The Houston area continues to see heavy rainfall due to Hurricane Harvey and the heaving flooding plaguing the city is only expected to worsen as rain continues to fall.

Some areas could eventually see up to 50 inches of rainfall, and five people have died due to the Category 4 hurricane with another 12 reported injured.

First responders are hard at work in the city, rescuing flood victims.

President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration for 18 counties in the area including Aransas, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Harris, Jackson, Kleberg, Liberty, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria and Wharton. The president may add more counties as more data becomes available.

Now, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it is offering mortgage and foreclosure relief as well as other assistance to some families, including to the 200,000 FHA-insured homeowners, living in the impacted areas.

“Today, our thoughts and prayers are with those who are beginning the process of recovering from Hurricane Harvey,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said. “As FEMA begins to assess the damage and respond to the immediate needs of residents, HUD will be there to offer assistance and support the longer-term housing recovery efforts.”

Carson urged the nation to put aside its differences, and focus all efforts on helping those affected by the hurricane.

Here is the disaster assistance HUD announced it is extending to the Houston area:

Assisting the state and local governments in re-allocating existing federal resources toward disaster relief – HUD's Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs give the state and communities the flexibility to redirect millions of dollars in annual funding for critical needs, including housing and services for disaster victims. HUD is currently contacting state and local officials to explore streamlining the department's CDBG and HOME programs in order to expedite the repair and replacement of damaged housing.

Granting immediate foreclosure relief – HUD is granting a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration-insured home mortgages.

Making mortgage insurance available – One HUD program provides FHA insurance to disaster victims who have lost their homes and are forced to rebuild or buy another home. Borrowers from participating FHA-approved lenders may be eligible for 100% financing.

Making insurance available for both mortgages and home rehabilitation – Another HUD loan program enables the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. It also allows homeowners who have damaged homes 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.

The extent of the damage could take some time, possibly even years, to repair, one expert explained.

“The effects of Hurricane Harvey on south Texas have been tragic and devastating,” BTIG homebuilding analyst Carl Reichardt said. “It is likely that homebuilders in the region will be negatively impacted as well.”

“Clean-up and repair in affected areas will take time and resources that might otherwise be focused on new construction, especially as subcontractor labor is tight,” Reichardt said.

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