During the course of the audit, we determined that FEMA provided hotel rooms to about 90,000 households (nearly 227,000 survivors) after the 2017 California wildfires and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. However, FEMA did not oversee and manage the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program to ensure it operated efficiently and effectively to meet all disaster survivors’ needs. Specifically, FEMA officials did not accurately validate taxes charged for hotel rooms and did not ensure that CLC maintained accurate records to ensure taxes charged were reasonable and allocable; paid for unoccupied rooms; and did not transition survivors from TSA hotels to interim or permanent housing timely. This occurred because FEMA officials did not establish a dedicated program office with staff and standard operating procedures for the TSA program. These deficiencies hindered FEMA from conducting appropriate reviews of the hotel costs and payments, and from adequately coordinating with the states to prepare pre-disaster housing strategies. As a result, FEMA paid more than $55.8 million in unverified taxes, disbursed indeterminate amounts for unoccupied rooms, and left over 146,000 disaster survivors in hotels for more than the recommended 30 days. We made two recommendations that when implemented, will improve FEMA’s oversight and pre-disaster planning of transitional sheltering. FEMA concurred with both recommendations and the recommendations are resolved and open.
Thursday, February 11, 2021
Agency Reviewed / Investigated:
Submitting OIG-Specific Report Number:
Component, if applicable:
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Type of Report: