In 2019, on a block of land in New Orleans that used to be a salvage yard, SBP broke ground for what would become The St. Peter, Louisiana’s first net-zero apartment building. Its grand opening in February 2020 welcomed the new residents and celebrated the 50-unit mixed-income residence where half of the units are prioritized for veterans. In a city where affordable housing is often hard to come by, The St. Peter offers an opportunity for veterans, individuals and families to live in high quality, energy-efficient, resilient housing they can afford.

The St. Peter as viewed from its namesake, St. Peter Street.

After months of planning, the completely unexpected happened —…


This week, AmeriCorps Week, SBP is deploying a team to Florida in partnership with AmeriCorps Disaster Services Unit to serve in an operations and logistics capacity at a FEMA COVID-19 mass vaccination site. We’re once again stepping in to address disaster — not a natural one this time, but one that has equally devastated lives and communities. We rebuild homes efficiently using the Toyota Production System, and our AmeriCorps members will take and apply that same model as they serve in Florida.

Frank Manjaly, an AmeriCorps member joining our COVID-19 response team for the next 30 days, explains what his…


A growing number of Texas counties (more than 100 to date) are now entering FEMA’s disaster recovery process for Winter Storm Uri. Based on data from the past, we know that regardless of the disaster type, applicants must be diligent in advocating for themselves. They must also keep up with changes to FEMA’s application process and the impact it can have on the awards they receive.

We knew COVID-19 would mean big changes in the 2020 disaster recovery space, from immediate response and damage assessments to long-term rebuilding efforts. We hoped that FEMA would adopt the best practices of the…


Millions of Texans are surveying the damage done by last week’s severe winter storm. Many will likely need assistance from FEMA now that a growing number of Texas counties are eligible for federal help and can apply for Individual Assistance. FEMA Individual Assistance provides financial and direct services to eligible un- or under-insured individuals and households affected by a disaster. The assistance is intended to meet basic needs such as temporary housing and food.

Houston, Texas

FEMA, and America’s overall system for disaster recovery, is stretched terribly thin by the COVID-19 pandemic and a record-setting 2020 disaster season. …


What’s Happening

Hundreds of thousands are still without power in Texas and a water boil advisory still exists. Several days ago President Biden approved an emergency declaration for the state of Texas. This means that FEMA is mobilized to provide equipment and resources to alleviate the impact of the disaster. We’re waiting to see if Individual Assistance — funding that will go directly to individuals and families — will be approved. If so, people can begin the FEMA recovery process.

We have free resources for survivors to help navigate the post-disaster insurance and federal assistance processes, avoid contractor fraud and instructions for…


Our new administration can champion systems-change within FEMA for a more equitable approach.

Every new administration inherits broken systems. Sometimes the challenges are structural; sometimes they are functions of a world that has evolved faster than legislation and some are legacy challenges that have vexed administrations for decades.

Not all of these broken systems result in unnecessary human suffering, but the current system for how America recovers from disaster is one that causes harm — physically, mentally and economically.

We all now have an evolved understanding of the importance of home as so many of us use home for school…


Our welcome home party for a 94-year-old World War II veteran a decade after Hurricane Katrina was cause for neighborhood celebration. It attracted national media and included a military color guard that hung an American flag on the porch.

But upon reflection of that day, it was sobering and transformative to realize that all the celebration and happiness only happened because a family suffered — for years. That change in perspective led us to evolve our mission from being reactive — rebuilding homes after a disaster — to being preventive.

Healing from disaster can only progress so far before the…


The news has been grim. The unprecedented 2020 hurricane season is barely in our rearview mirror but it’s just a taste of what’s to come. The impacts of climate change are not distant points on the horizon, they are all around us.

Unpredictable weather patterns and rapid development in urban areas are making current flood maps purveyors of misinformation about risk. And, it comes as no surprise, low income and communities of color are not only more vulnerable to these impacts but also have historically been pushed into areas of greater environmental risk.

Flood lines from a home in Wilmington, North Carolina after Hurricane Florence.

At the same time, technology is advancing…


Harvey, Maria, Katrina — the names everyone talks about… yet there are thousands of un- or underinsured, low-to-moderate income families still struggling to recover from the damage inflicted by these and other disasters. Their difficult disaster-recovery experiences are largely the result of a protracted and complicated federal disaster recovery assistance process that often fails to meet the needs of those most in need and for whom it was designed to serve — corporate philanthropy can help.

Damage from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Problems for the disaster-affected begin with an application for Individual Assistance (IA) payments from FEMA, which are meant to cover immediate needs such as…


Our disaster response team lead for Hurricanes Laura and Delta writes about what she’s seen.

In the early weeks after Hurricane Laura, when we began our gutting and mold remediation work, every single person started crying at the end of our conversations. It’s overwhelming for these homeowners who’ve just lost so much and for a few moments they had someone to be “in it” with them. Having SBP show up, do the work and prove we’re not going anywhere created such a sense of relief for people.

Hannah Roberts, left, on a home assessment in southwestern Louisiana with AmeriCorps member Olivia Barone. Hannah is the staff lead for SBP’s Disaster Response Team for Hurricanes Laura and Delta. She deployed after Hurricane Michael in Florida and Hurricane Dorian in Bahamas, leading training in field management and mold remediation processes.

Since those early conversations, I’ve done more than 50 home assessments with survivors…

SBP: Shrinking time between disaster & recovery

Bringing discipline & innovation to create social impact. Shrinking the time between disaster & recovery for at-risk communities. sbpusa.org

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