Congress is moving quickly to enact legislation that would directly impact disaster recovery efforts for low income survivors of Hurricane Florence and future disasters. While we applaud Congress’s efforts to respond quickly by providing nearly $1.7 billion in Community Development Block Grant — Disaster Recovery funds for communities devastated by Hurricane Florence, we are concerned that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill misses an opportunity to address the housing needs of low income disaster survivors and includes some harmful disaster-related provisions.
It is critical that housing organizations, advocates, and disaster survivors contact their Representatives and Senators to ensure that the bill meets the needs of low income survivors.
While the FAA bill provides an early infusion of $1.7 billion in Community Development Block Grant — Disaster Recovery funds for communities impacted by Hurricane Florence - with the promise of a larger disaster recovery supplemental bill at a later date — improvements are needed to ensure that low income survivors have the stable, affordable homes they need to get back on their feet. For more details on the FAA bill, see the DHRC’s letter to Congressional leaders.
Please call your Representatives and Senators as soon as possible and urge them to improve the FAA bill by:
- Adding measures to activate the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP). One of the top priorities after a disaster to ensure that all displaced families have a safe, accessible, and affordable place to live while they recover. DHAP provides survivors with direct rental assistance and case management services to help them get back on their feet. While DHAP was used successfully after Hurricane Katrina, Gustav, and Ike and Superstorm Sandy, FEMA refuses to make this resource available to help disaster survivor who face the greatest barriers to recovery.
- Removing Section 1211, which doubles-down on FEMA’s failed experiment from the 2017 disasters. Section 1211 of the FAA bill authorizes states to administer disaster housing assistance programs. The provision, however, does not provide basic oversight and safeguards to ensure that the housing needs of disaster survivors are met. For this reason, we are concerned that Section 1211 could lead to a repeat of the failures of the 2017 disaster recovery effort — as cited in a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
- Removing Section 1210, which eliminates tools used to target resources to households with the greatest needs. While the Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program is one of the only recovery tools available to low and moderate income survivors, this vital resource frequently has been diverted away from the people and communities that face the greatest recovery needs and for whom the program was designed to serve. Section 1211 would eliminate a key tool used by federal agencies to target resources where they are needed most, reducing the overall impact of federal recovery funds.
The FAA bill is slated for a vote in the House of Representatives this week, with a vote in the Senate shortly after. It is critical that advocates call Congress as soon as possible.