Growing Risk for Mobile Homes

Dangerous mix: Climate change, tornadoes, and mobile homes.

Tornadoes and mobile homes do not mix to begin with, but throw in the volatility of climate change and the potential for massive property damage and deaths is even higher in coming decades. The number of mobile homes in the United States has risen dramatically in the past 60 years, to about 9 million currently. Meanwhile, the United States is the most tornado-prone country in the world, with an average of 1,200 twisters per year.

The annual impact of tornadoes is expected to increase threefold over the next few decades due to the “twin forces of increased climate variability and growth in the human-built environment,” according to the study, which is published online in the journal Regional Science and Urban Economics.

FEMA is Reviewing Temporary Housing Options for LA

FEMA: Unclear what housing options will be used, but don’t expect Katrina-era FEMA trailers. Some excerpts from the article:

Earlier this year, the federal government unveiled what it called the “new and improved” FEMA trailer, which is a bit roomier and includes fire sprinklers in all units.

Fugate, who traveled to Louisiana this week to assess the flood damage, said other updates have been made to make sure that the trailers comply with housing standards outlined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Replacement Housing is Hard to Plan

This example from Japan illustrates the complexities of providing replacement housing.  See: Seven Percent of Public Housing Units for disaster Victims Unoccupied. [Thanks to Chris Jones for the citation.]

And for some information about the U.S. problems with replacement housing, I call you attention to this posting almost two years ago, titled Lament re Disaster Recovery Housing Programs.


Issues re Housing Displaced Residents

From a San Francisco newspaper article: Disasters are Coming, But There’s Nowhere to Stay. Most of us are familiar with the need to find temporary housing units, but how many emergency managers have estimated the staff needed to do the job?

Some excerpts from the article:

The constant threat of major disaster is a way of life in earthquake-, drought-, and landslide-prone California. In San Francisco, where civic leaders stress the inevitability of a temblor on the scale of the 1906 quake within the next 30 years, so is being unspeakably ill-prepared.

1906 was a 7.8 quake on the San Andreas fault. If that happened today, as many as 64,500 people would need immediate shelter — and another 250,000 would be displaced, but would somehow not need a bed — according to a recent city controller’s report.

Dealing with that mass of survivors would require more staff than the city’s Human Services Agency has handy — by a wide margin. To be precise, the city would be short 22,030 disaster workers.


Resilience Project at ABAG

See this major new project done by the Association of Bay Area Governments:  Stronger Housing, Safer Communities.

This new project could be used as a guide for other regions/communities. It’s a multi-part study led by the Association of Bay Area Governments with funding from an array of federal partners and with a particular focus on linking up thinking about climate change (particularly sea level rise) with current flooding and seismic risks.

ABAG first established a framework for thinking about the hazards, then they worked with a steering committee to develop a set of housing and ‘community-scale’ vulnerability indicators for those hazards. One of the challenges was defining indicators that could be measured region-wide with available data. I was involved with the 3rd part which was to develop a suite of strategies targeting local governments and how to better manage multi-hazard risk. We were looking at priority development areas across the region, many of which are near transit corridors along the margins of San Francisco Bay with high earthquake liquefaction and current/future flooding risks. One of the key goals of this effort was to better link up the land use planning and policy tool kits that we have for dealing with seismic and flood related hazards.

For more info, cont act the project manager: Danielle Meiler at ABAG: <>.

Thanks to Laurie A. Johnson, Laurie Johnson Consulting | Research, for this information and the link,

Audit in NYC Reveals Big Problems with Housing Repair Program Post-Sandy

Here is a second posting on the topic of post-disaster housing, this one focusing on the post-Sandy housing repair programs. Considering how much money is being spent on post-disaster housing programs, clearly the time has come for better oversight and some reform!

An article about the audit appeared in the NY Times, but here is the actual source document:

COMPTROLLER STRINGER AUDIT OF BUILD IT BACK REVEALS MILLIONS PAID OUT FOR INCOMPLETE WORK, DOUBLE-BILLING & UNDOCUMENTED TRAVEL COSTS. Frustrated homeowners forced to contend with over 100 procedural changes in the course of a year. Same subcontractors that bungled earlier work still on the job, working without legally enforceable controls.  Some excerpts:

New York City’s recovery effort following Superstorm Sandy was a boon for consultants who failed to do required work and left thousands of victims without help long after the storm ravaged the City—and problems continue to this day, according to an audit released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

The Comptroller’s audit revealed the City’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations (HRO) failed to properly monitor contractors and paid $6.8 million to them for work that that was flawed or incomplete – contributing to extensive delays in the delivery of aid to more than 20,000 people seeking help.

“New York City’s response to Sandy was a case study in dysfunction,” Stringer said. “During the course of this audit, I went to affected communities to hear first-hand the stories of the recovery from hundreds of City residents — from the endless delays, to the lost paperwork and the maddening lack of progress. With this audit, we present a new level of detail about how the City allowed consultants to run amok and what must be done to ensure these mistakes are never again repeated.”

The audit examined the Build it Back Single Family Program – which focused on owner-occupants of properties with one-to-four units affected by Sandy – from June 1, 2013 to August 1, 2014. The findings were enhanced by testimony from six public hearings that Stringer’s office held in areas hardest hit by the storm, which were attended by hundreds of New Yorkers. The audit included detailed reviews of a random sample of 70 applicants, plus reviews of program design, management and operations by HRO and its contractors.

This is not the first example of housing repair program problems. They occurred after H. Katrina in LA as well.  The Diva hopes to have more posts on the topic of the use of CDBG-DR funding for post-disaster home repair in the future.