Gulf Watch: FEMA's slow pace and high-denial rate for assistance is a major barrier to recovery on the Texas Coast

According to the AP:
Deputy FEMA Administrator Harvey E. Johnson Jr. said he intends to improve the help that the agency provides to Texans whose home were damaged or destroyed by the September hurricane. He said FEMA will deploy mobile homes to the hardest-hit areas more rapidly, review rules that might be causing premature denials of assistance and provide more resources to Texas.
Despite this announcement, the slow and inadequate response FEMA gave in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina continues to show itself in Texas and remains a major barrier to rebuilding in the region. For months high-ranking federal and state officials have been expressing the concern that FEMA is moving too slowly and has made too many missteps and suffered under too many bureaucratic glitches, all of which have combined to slow down recovery. For instance, FEMA has installed only about 300 mobile homes in Orange, Jefferson and Chambers counties in Texas, reports the Galveston County Daily News. But even FEMA's own assessment shows that 2,800 to 5,100 mobile homes are needed in Texas, according to the AP. Facing South has reported on Galveston's growing housing crisis, and that FEMA has been not provided sufficient housing units or been able to meet the housing needs in areas like Galveston.

Added to the lack of sufficient housing units is the high rate of denial for rental assistance to renters and rebuilding assistance to homeowners. As the Galveston County Daily News reported, more than 370,000 residents of the upper Texas Coast (77 percent of the people who asked for housing assistance) have fallen through gaps in the safety net the government spreads wide to help victims of natural disasters.

According to the Galveston County Daily News:
On average, 44 percent of the people who apply for assistance after a natural disaster get it, officials say. After Hurricane Ike came shore Sept. 13, leaving a trail of destruction along much of the upper Texas Coast, 489,472 Texas residents registered for housing assistance. As of [Nov. 9], 68,904 registrants -- 14 percent -- had received assistance from the federal government. The rest were denied because they did not qualify for help under federal guidelines.
Bloggers over at the Texas Housers blog also question FEMA's high denial rate in the Galveston area. The site reports that updated data obtained from FEMA shows the agency has approved less than 10 percent of the applications for help from hurricane survivors in Galveston. Using data gathered by Maddie Sloan, a staff attorney with the social justice non-profit Texas Appleseed, Texas Housers reported:
The numbers depict the households that have applied for assistance from FEMA under the "Individual Assistance" program. There is currently a 52% denial rate, the approval rate has fallen to 9.8%, with 32% of applications still pending, probably because home inspections have not been completed given some of the numbers FEMA has posted on the website about inspections.

Total [Texas] registrations: 719,576
Total approvals: 70,595
Withdrawn applications: 42,115
Total ineligible: 374,957
Pending applications: 231,909

Applications to date in [Galveston County]: 70,077
Applications withdrawn: 6,903
Out of the remaining 63,174 applications, 19,689 have been determined eligible, a 31% approval rate.
The question becomes: with high denial rates like these, how are residents ever expected to rebuild and recover?

(Photo of Galveston housing destruction from the FEMA photo library)