Washington DC – The emergency relief bill, passed by the House today, is an important step in providing communities devastated by this year’s hurricanes and wildfires with the critical resources they need to continue to rebuild and recover. This bill is a significant improvement on the White House request of $44 billion, which would have been grossly inadequate to address these communities’ most pressing needs. More is needed, however, to ensure federal disaster recovery and rebuilding resources reach all impacted households, especially those with the lowest incomes who were struggling to make ends meet before the disasters and whose living conditions have significantly worsened in the wake of the disasters. The Senate must improve the disaster relief bill by adding basic safeguards, resources, and tools to help the lowest income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, veterans, people experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable populations get back on their feet.
One of the best ways that Congress can help survivors with the greatest needs have stable, accessible, and healthy homes is to fund the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), which provides direct rental assistance and services to low income, displaced families. Through proper oversight, including collecting and sharing data with the public on how disaster recovery resources are spent, Congress can ensure funds are used equitably to address the housing and infrastructure needs of low income people and communities. By providing specifically designated housing resources, like the national Housing Trust Fund and others, we can prevent the current affordable rental housing crisis in disaster-impacted communities from becoming worse.
Far too many low income families in disaster-impacted areas are facing significant barriers to safe, affordable homes. In Houston and Orlando, there are fewer than 18 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low income households. California had the greatest shortage in the country, with a deficit of over 1.1 million homes affordable to its lowest income residents. In Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, poverty gripped 45% and 30% of the population, respectively – far more than the 15% national average.
“Congress has an important role to play to ensure that all disaster survivors – including people with the lowest incomes – get the help they need for a full recovery, starting with an affordable place to call home,” stated NLIHC president and CEO Diane Yentel.
NLIHC leads the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC)—a coalition of over 250 local, state, and national organizations working to ensure the federal response to recent disasters prioritizes the housing needs of the lowest income people in the impacted areas. DHRC sent a letter today to the Appropriations Committee urging further improvements to the disaster spending bill.
Read DHRC’s letter to Appropriators at: http://bit.ly/2BSMLwd
Read DHRC’s top priorities for any disaster recovery package at: http://bit.ly/2BtwTxt
Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes.