In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, NLIHC urges the Congress to take up consider S. 1630, the Disaster Recovery Act, before the end of this Congress. The bill would make important reforms to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
S. 1630 was introduced by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) on September 23, 2011 and referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. The bill is cosponsored by Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS).
Senator Landrieu’s staff tells NLIHC that the Senator will try to advance the legislation during the lame duck session of Congress after the election.
The legislation, if enacted, would make many important changes to post-disaster housing programs, which are based on lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina. Many are changes advocated by NLIHC and the Katrina Housing Group (see Memo, 9/23/11). Among other provisions, the bill would:
- Clearly define when a disaster is considered to be catastrophic and set up mechanisms to ensure an appropriately robust federal role in disaster response and recovery.
- Require that FEMA, HUD and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) develop a single, comprehensive case management system, and develop regulations to ensure that every survivor has a single point of contact for case management services.
- Make changes to the housing response and recovery activities authorized under the Stafford Act to minimize the time that households are in temporary housing and ensure a seamless transition for these households to new permanent housing.
While the extent of the damage by Hurricane Sandy damage to low income housing is still being assessed, NLIHC partners in affected states report significant impact to affordable housing developments.
HUD has made available resources to assist low income renters living in counties in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey where President Obama has issued a disaster declaration. According to a HUD press release, “HUD is currently contacting State and local officials to explore streamlining the Department's CDBG and HOME programs in order to expedite the repair and replacement of damaged housing.” Further, HUD has also put into place a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures for FHA-insured loans in affected counties.
According to Federal Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate, there are adequate funds now in the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) to pay for Sandy-related response efforts. However, he has left open the possibility that additional funds may be needed at a later date. The DRF was exempted from the spending caps included in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). Further, disaster funds can be rolled over across fiscal years and do not need to be offset.
Click here for the text of S. 1630.
NLIHC’s letter of endorsement for S. 1630 is attached.