Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) introduced legislation on September 23 to strengthen and make reforms to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act based on lessons learned from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Among other provisions, the Disaster Recovery Act of 2011 would require FEMA, HUD, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to define within one year each agency’s responsibilities as they relate to disaster housing needs. The agreement would be updated every five years. The bill also would mandate a national inventory of federally owned housing units and provide technical assistance to PHAs so they can more effectively administer post-disaster housing programs.
The bill would make changes to individual and household assistance, many of which the Katrina Housing Group has advocated. It would authorize assistance to more than one household with the same pre-disaster address if the household split up post-disaster due to space constraints, domestic violence, divorce, or other good cause. In addition, home repair or replacement eligibility would transfer from deceased property owners to heirs inheriting the property, provided the latter lived in the property prior to the disaster and would take legal possession of it.
Under certain conditions, the bill would authorize the President to provide temporary mortgage or rental payments on behalf of those at immediate risk of dispossession, foreclosure, or eviction due to financial hardship caused by the disaster. It also would clarify factors that the President must consider in determining whether and where to establish a group housing site, by adding accessibility to schools, health and child care, grocery stores, public transportation, and other essential services.
S. 1630 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) is an original co-sponsor.
The full text of S. 1630 is available at: http://nlihc.org/doc/DRA_S1630_Bill.pdf
A section-by-section summary of S. 1630 is available at: http://nlihc.org/doc/DRA_Section-by-Section_Summary.pdf