On January 14, NLIHC submitted comments to FEMA on its proposed Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for the National Disaster Housing Task Force.
The task force is a product of the National Disaster Housing Strategy, which Congress required in the aftermath of the incompetent federal response to the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes. The Bush Administration released the strategy in January 2009 (see Memo, 1/23/09), but it left many questions unanswered and noted that a follow up document – CONOPS – would provide detail on the federal role related to housing in disaster recovery efforts.
Drawing on suggestions made by organizations participating in its Katrina Housing Group, NLIHC urged FEMA to focus its housing efforts on interim and long-term recovery solutions in the immediate aftermath of disasters. This approach is more effective than an “interim shelter first, permanent long-term solutions second” model.
The comments direct FEMA’s attention toward the need for housing recovery efforts to be free of discrimination against classes of people protected by the Stafford Act (which protects for race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency and economic status) and Fair Housing Act (which protects for race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability and familial status). NLIHC urged FEMA to integrate anti-discrimination efforts into its disaster planning efforts and recognize that federal agencies are responsible for overseeing contractors’ fair housing compliance.
The comments urged FEMA to expand CONOPS’ references to case management in the aftermath of disasters, especially for vulnerable people. “Case management is a relatively recent invention in human services that was necessitated by increasingly complex and multilayered service systems that ordinary human beings, let alone people in crisis, could not be expected to navigate,” NLIHC President and CEO Sheila Crowley wrote in the comment letter.
To read the comment letter, go to: http://nlihc.org/doc/NLIHC_CONOPS_KHG_Jan_2011.pdf