Alliance Residential Company felt the impact of Hurricane Harvey across the 28 communities it manages in the Houston area. One community (seen in the background of this month’s cover) was located in an area with severe flooding that was placed under mandatory evacuation during the storm. The team was unable to re-access the community for 15 days after that evacuation; though now back online, there is a long road ahead for full remediation and recovery. Throughout, Alliance has focused on three things: ensuring the safety of associates in the area, guiding residents through the crisis as effectively as possible and assessing the impact of the storm on each property it manages. This has been a two-fold effort, spearheaded by the regional operations team in market and supported by the Phoenix-based corporate headquarters.
“Hurricane Harvey affected the lives of almost everyone in and around the Houston metropolitan area, and this particular community was not spared,” said Stephanie Nascimento, Senior Vice President of Operations. “Thankfully, our associates and residents made it through without injury, but personal possessions were lost and lives were disrupted (and still are). We’ve focused on keeping open lines of communication with our residents—we have been sending emails and posting updates to Facebook as regularly as possible. For those residents whose homes were damaged to the point of being unlivable, our approach has been focused on helping them into their next home, whether at another Alliance-managed community or not. At the end of the day, we just want to know they have a new home. Looking forward, we are also committed to restoring our impacted communities to the clean, vibrant and healthy living environments they once were.”
Apartment Industry: Thank You for Your Generosity
Yardi Pledges $1 million to Assist Hurricane Areas
Yardi committed $1 million to support nonprofit organizations in the rebuilding of areas affected by the hurricane, and will match employee donations to the hurricane relief fund. But there was also an opportunity to assist those in need of temporary or permanent housing due to floodwater damage.
Yardi has also launched a hotline that evacuees looking for housing can call for housing assistance. The toll-free number is 844-363-6317.
Additionally, Yardi is offering disaster response assistance for clients on the RENTCafé platform, including nudge messaging, voice messaging and call automation to help clients communicate with their residents during the aftermath. Yardi representatives are reaching out to clients in the affected area to explain and offer these services at no charge.
- Housing portals to assist displaced residents from the hurricanes were created by Yardi, Entrata, MRI, Smart Apartment Data and the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
- Lowe’s announced an additional commitment of $500,000 to support disaster relief and recovery efforts following the recent earthquakes in Mexico and hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico and across the Caribbean. Lowe’s has committed more than $2.5 million to disaster relief this year both domestically and internationally. Lowe’s will work with nonprofit partners and government agencies both internationally and locally to determine community needs as they begin to rebuild and recover. Lowe’s American Red Cross customer donation program is currently activated in all U.S. stores to provide a convenient place for customers to support those affected by recent disasters like Hurricane Maria. Customers can also contribute to the American Red Cross online through a link on Lowes.com.
- “These recent disasters have caused unprecedented devastation and impacted the things that matter most to people – their loved ones and their homes,” said James Frison, Lowe’s director of community relations. “Lowe’s is passionate about helping communities rebuild to make them feel like home again.”
- InfoTycoon offered no-cost emergency inspections to apartment owners and operators affected by the hurricanes through a program InfoTycoon Cares. In the aftermath of a hurricane or other natural disaster, InfoTycoon’s Inspections mobile software platform can be leveraged to inspect and document damages to community amenity areas, apartment interiors, building exteriors and more.
This can assist owners and managers as they calculate damages, facilitate repairs, file insurance claims and help their residents. Its mobile software platform offers real-time access to inspection progress and conditions with photographs, and automatically provides estimates for repair costs.
“We hope apartment owners and property management firms will take advantage of the program. I am so proud of how our team is coming together to serve our clients and the industry at large,” said Kevin George, President and CEO. “They are working around the clock to support our clients and the industry during this challenging time.”
FEMA Considers Buying Flooded Apt Properties
The city of Houston, which has historically shied away from buyouts, is now discussing them with FEMA, Mayor Sylvester Turner said, reports The Houston Chronicle. “But if the city buys out flood-prone apartment buildings, the problem then becomes finding affordable housing for the residents, many of them low-income,” Turner said, according to the Chronicle.
“I think there will be serious consideration given to buying out some apartment properties that have flooded multiple times,” Houston Apartment Association, VP of Public Affairs, Andy Teas, says. “At some point, repeated loss exposure makes that the right call.”
Houston Flood Czar: No Dramatic Change in Development Policy
Fingers are being pointed at Houston’s liberal development policy as part of the reason for the extensive flood damage produced by Hurricane Harvey. Debate has begun about what steps could or should be taken in response.
Stephen Costello, whose official title is chief resilience officer, but who is known to many as Houston’s flood czar, says the go-go culture of growth is here to stay, reports The Wall Street Journal.
“I don’t think you’re going to see a dramatic change in the way we are developing,” Costello said.
Regulating development through, say, a stricter zoning code is a nonstarter, Costello added.
“Zoning is never going to happen here, not in my lifetime,” he said.
He instead says the city needs to create a better system “to more quickly and efficiently move rainwater out of town and into the bayous during heavy rains.”
“Proper government investment in infrastructure is the real issue,” Ric Campo, CEO, Camden, says. “Any city would have flooded if 51 inches of rain fell there.”