The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved H.R. 4460, “The Disaster Recovery Reform Act” (DRRA), on November 30. The bill provides reforms to FEMA’s response and recovery programs, focusing on increased pre-disaster planning and mitigation. The reforms include a provision that could impact how Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) are allocated. Currently, those who receive a disaster recovery loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) are not eligible to receive additional funding later through CDBG-DR, which is meant to target people with modest incomes who cannot afford a loan. The DRRA allows recipients of SBA loans to also receive CDGB-DR funding to repay the loan or cover additional disaster-related damages. This provision could take funding away from the lowest income people in favor of those with more financial stability. The bill has bipartisan support and will now move to the House floor for a vote.
The bill would also allow a state to administer temporary and permanent housing construction programs with approval from the president. The state would be required to demonstrate an ability to manage the programs, comply with federal laws, and make efforts to combat waste, fraud, and abuse. The president, in consultation with the state, would determine any other criteria necessary for approval of the housing plan. The bill also amends the Stafford Act to ensure that if the federal government contracts with private landlords under FEMA’s Multifamily Lease and Repair program, the value of repairs are removed from the value of the contract.